Monthly Archives: July 2011

Kind words live a long time

When my husband says to me, “I’m proud of you for how hard you fight,” meaning the ongoing battle against manic-depression, that makes me feel about two feet taller and twice as strong. When he says, “I’m glad you’re so good at keeping the house clean enough,” that makes me happy, too. I know I’m not a great housekeeper, so “clean enough” is high praise.

When my daughter says to me, “All my friends think you’re really cool,” well… who wouldn’t be flattered? Seriously. When she thanks me, in her way, for giving her four years of extra attention and all the education I could manage to squeeze into a homeschooling setting, that makes life worth living.

But I was challenged to think of the best compliment I ever received, and after some pondering, I think it has to come down to two.

In college, I minored in Speech and Theater. I loved everything about it, from solo performances to big plays to painting sets to doing makeup to competing in Forensics Tournaments. I had a bit of a crush on one teacher. Heck, I think every female in the department had a crush on him, and maybe some of the (deeply closeted at Bible college) males. He was tough and demanding, but he wasn’t afraid to give some praise if needed.

During my last semester, I didn’t have any classes with him or contact with him at all. I’d changed from glasses to contacts, done a mind-blowing student teaching job, and among a lot of other things, took part in a production staged by a graduating friend. In the line after the show, which was a one-shot thing, this teacher came up to me, looked at me as if he’d never seen me before, and said, “You were wonderful. And you look lovely.”

Well. Well well well. That was unexpected, and I walked on air for several days after that. All the way through graduation, in fact.

But cool as it was, that’s not my favorite compliment.

For just under ten years, I taught college. I taught journalism and writing and mass media history, among other things. It was early on during that part of my career that I received my best compliment ever. A student lingered after class and said to me, “Y’know, I never thought about it that way before.”

Can a teacher receive a better compliment?

What are we there for, as teachers, if not to help our students see things in ways they’ve never seen them before? Whether an equation, a diagrammed sentence, a previously despised book, a lab experiment or a different slant on some segment of history, teachers make it clear. They make it understood. A good teacher opens doors in minds, not so she can fill them with her own opinions, but so they have room to consider a larger portion of the immense world.

“I never thought about it that way before.” The best compliment ever. I’m honored to have gotten it more than once.

Truth is, I miss it something fierce. Teaching, I mean. Next time around, I’d like to be a teacher again, letting fresh air into sometimes sludgy minds.

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Book Review: Ghost Story, by Jim Butcher

First of all, if you don’t know who Jim Butcher is and you haven’t read any of his previous Harry Dresden novels, this is NOT the place to start. Got that? Start with “Storm Front,” the first of now-13 amazingly entertaining books about the adventures of Harry Dresden, Wizard for Hire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s not to say that you have to read all the books, although once you’ve read one I defy you to stop. They’re like the best, most addictive potato chips ever. Compulsively readable. Butcher builds a strong cast of primary and supporting characters slowly through all 13 books, until it seems as if the stories are as much about Michael and Molly, Susan and the vampires, Thomas and the other vampires, Harry’s fairy godmother, Butters and Maggie and Mort and Kincaid and Ivy and Ebenezer and… the list goes on… as about Harry. And of course, they’re all about Chicago cop Karrin Murphy and Bob the Skull. Not to mention Mister the cat and Mouse the temple dog.

I’m reading back over that paragraph and thinking, sheesh, this sounds like just about the most twee thing since the invention of twee. But it isn’t. The cover copy on “Ghost Story” suggests crossing Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Phillip Marlowe, and that’s not far from accurate.

Harry’s a wizard. The supernatural obviously plays a huge part in his world. But you’ll find no Disney fairies or True Blood vampire hunks here. Dresden’s supernatural is vast, tricksy, and might just as well rip you to shreds as talk to you. Dresden himself, the character, pulls all these books out of the slop-bucket of quasi-fantasy crap that’s been sloshed on the SF/F reading world in recent years. Dresden is a loner, a smartass, witty and funny and capable of enormous destruction. He’s kind, will do anything for his friends and often for complete strangers, and he makes mistakes. Oh, boy, does he makes mistakes.

And his mistakes have consequences. Which brings me to “Ghost Story,” the 13th Harry Dresden novel, in which entire coops full of plot chickens come home to roost in Harry’s world. How he deals with the repercussions of past successes, past mistakes, and past failures is a large part of the driving force of the novel. Oh, there’s a standard plot, and it’s a terrific Dresden adventure on its own. But “Ghost Story” is more about reflection. It’s about the time which comes to most everybody, when you stop slogging and pushing and fighting to go forward and suddenly are forced to look back at what you’ve left in your wake. Intentional and unintentional.

Harry Dresden books don’t make me cry. This one did.

So… don’t start out with “Ghost Story.” But if you’ve got time to spare and you’ve been looking for a series that will entertain, enlighten, amuse and sometimes cause you to chew your fingernails, pick up a copy of “Storm Front” and start reading. And when you get done with “Ghost Story,” drop me a line. We can hold cyber-hands and get ready  to move on.

P.S. This feels kinda disloyal, especially after raving about the Dresden books so ardently. But Jim Butcher has another six-book series called “The Codex Alera.” I can’t recommend it. Truth be told, I’ve never managed to finish chapter one of book one. It’s dense and wordy and takes itself too seriously, for my tastes. And I love “The Lord of the Rings,” just to be clear on this. ;D

So Jim Butcher “Dresden Files” series, many many thumbs up.

Jim Butcher otherwise, you’re on your own.

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Early Encounters with Death

My maternal grandfather died when I was five years old. He was buried on my sixth birthday.

That was my first brush with death, other than the death of my first kitten, Smokey, who was hit by a car and killed about a year before that. I never saw Smokey’s body: My mom or dad took care of getting it out of sight before telling me what had happened. But with Pa, it was different.

I was never a huggy, kissy child, and my Pa was a very huggy, lovey grandpa, or so I was told. I never liked to sit on laps and be cuddled, so even as a small child, Pa and I had reached some sort of standoff, apparently. I’d agree to sit on his lap for a few minutes and suffer through a hug, and that’d be that. Don’t get me wrong: I loved my grandpa. I just didn’t like being held. Never did, not from the start.

So it was all good with us. Everybody enjoyed a laugh about prickly Judy, who didn’t like anybody hugging her, and that was my oddity in a large extended family that seemed to treasure oddity.

When Pa died, of heart failure on an icy December day, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Mostly, I have two memories from that time.

First, Pa was lying down in the living room. I’d never seen Pa lying down before. He was a rugged, rangy Southern dirt farmer, accustomed to hard work and hard play. He always seemed to be moving, even when sitting down. But he just laying there in the living room, inside the oddest bed. Of course now I know it was a coffin, but I didn’t really have any words or experience to account for that. The living room was full, as it almost always was, but everybody was being very quiet. And I remember it was colder than usual, that the living room fire was barely lit, and it was so very cold outside. My adult self reckons that was to hold the body off from decay for a little while, but to my child self it was just another oddity.

The second thing I remember is my mother’s sweater. I spent a lot of that time on her lap (Mama was the only person I’d voluntarily allow to hold me). She was wearing an open sweater (a cardigan) I’d never seen before, soft and solid black. It had small, domed buttons that were pearly gray-white. I sat on her lap for hours, playing with those buttons and keeping an eye on all the comings and goings between the living room and the kitchen, and in and out the front door.

My Pa had a large family – 13 children, probably half of them married and parents by then – and he was known and liked in the small rural community, so there was a lot of foot traffic.

But when push comes to shove, those are the only real memories I have of my first encounter with death: the pearly buttons on my mama’s sweater and the oddity that Pa was lying down in the living room.

Sometimes I think it was a good thing that I had that experience. I’m glad I had the chance to experience death as a natural, organic part of life, not as something that happens shut away in a special building with machinery and mysterious goings-ons. Pa was alive and then he died, and his body lay in rest in his living room, where he had so often sat and laughed and fussed and talked, and it was perfectly right that it should be so.

That was the first and last in-home “lying-in” I ever saw. But I think it might have been healthier than how we do things now.

ETA: Pa died on Dec. 13. He had 13 children at the time, and 13 grandchildren. Family legend says that he had gone out to bring in the family’s 13 head of cattle, and that the temperature had gotten down to 13 degrees the night before. I can neither confirm nor deny any of the legend, but I’ve decided to believe it. It’s a little bit of cool, no?

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Space, the final frontier…

Somebody on Facebook asked, a while back, why we need the space program. Why, when our society has so many deep and vital needs, should we spend money on something as whimsical as space exploration?

Obviously, the reasons are many, beginnning with all the benefits (electronic, computer, medicine, even agriculture) we’ve gained as side-effects of NASA’s research and development.

But I think it goes deeper than that. We need the space program because we need the opportunity of a communal dream. If we look around us, and even behind us, the world sometimes seems awfully grim. No matter what each of us does, we can’t seem to make a difference.

It’s vital for the human spirit to have something to dream of, something to potentially accomplish if we all want it badly enough. The space program is a small expense, budgetarily, that gives a huge, monumental, return. To cease funding it would be a diminishment of hope. And I’m not sure we can take much more cynicism and lack of hope.

 

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Media Consumption June 2011

Haven’t done this in a while, so I’m just gonna touch on what I remember from the past month or so.

***** The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell – When the planet Rakkat is discovered to be inhabited by apparent intelligent life that communicates via the radio transmission of gloriously alien music, Catholicism’s Jesuits rush to get the first contact with the new world. The team sent to make first contact is made up of four Jesuit priests, an aging female doctor, her equally aging engineer husband, a young male astronomer and a young female expert in computers and all things A.I. An odd mix, granted.

The bulk of the story moves between the official inquiry into Father Emilio Sandoz, the only survivor of the venture, and the story of how the venture came to be put together and carried out. It’s a beautiful, heart-rending story about the need for belief and the search for God. It’s also a first-contact story unlike any other I’ve encountered, in which everyone involved behaves rightly and does the best things, and yet everything goes wrong. Why is Sandoz the only survivor? How did he survive? What happened to the others? How did he manage to get back to Earth?

All these questions drive the story, which exists on the surface of it as a perfectly fine science fiction novel. But if you care to read deeper, there’s much to be pondered. I won’t be forgetting this book any time soon.

* Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoesky – I already blogged about this. Never again.

**** Luther, BBC – Luther is one of those six-episode BBC “series” that seem so odd to the U.S. viewer. That said, I enjoyed Luther, which is basically just another cop show, this one about British detective John Luther and his troubles at home and on the job. I watch a lot of crime shows, both U.S. and U.K., so I rarely get truly surprised by any plot development, but Luther managed to do it. Luther himself has troubling issues with anger, and wouldn’t last ten days in any real job, I suspect, but it made for entertaining viewing.

**** Waking the Dead, BBC – So what is it with the Brits and anger management problems? I really enjoyed Waking the Dead, although it contains nothing truly new or unusual. Standard TV cold-case fare, but the characters are nicely drawn and I got very fond of them. Much to my frustration, at one point. Anyway, the main character, Peter Boyd, while sometimes charming and amusing and always whip-smart, is also constantly angry. I mean constantly. It must have been traumatically exhausting for the actor who plays him to be so freaking angry all the time.

** The Jacket -I didn’t really know what to expect from this movie, so I wasn’t disappointed. It’s an interesting if mostly irrational meditation on time travel, of all things. But I’ll be honest… I had a hard time paying attention to it because I find Adrien Brody so amazingly distracting in appearance. I can’t mentally place him in any role because he looks so distinctively just exactly like himself all the time. And his nose distracts me. There. I admit it. I AM that shallow. So sue me.

**** Precious – I’ve put off watching this for a long time because I figured it would be depressing. And it was. But it was also oddly hopeful, and I recommend it to anyone. Let me say this, and that’s all I’m saying…. Mo’Nique deserved every gram of that Oscar, baby. Her performance is utterly fearless, ferocious, eviscerated and lacerating. The main character and all the others were fine, but Mo’Nique’s amazing performance as the abusive mother completely makes the movie. Holy cow. Watch it, for a perfect example of what real, gut-level honest acting is.

Death Note, anime  – I’m watching this on the Kiddo’s recommendation. It’s certainly twisted and forces the viewer into some uncomfortable moral positions. That said, it’s hard to get attached to any of the characters beyond surface level. I’ve still got a few more episodes to go, though.

*** Surface (aka Fathom) – I’m not entirely sure why the Kiddo and I started watching this, but we did, and we both enjoyed the heck out of it. It’s one of those TV series that gets started, never develops enough viewers, and is dropped before it has a chance to live. Surface, in which a marine biologist, an insurance adjuster and a 16-year-old boy race to solve the mystery of “what the heck is that in the ocean?” is a great deal of good clean entertaining fun. Sure, it’s got plot holes you could slip an entire Panzer brigade through, but if you just chill and enjoy it, it’s better than most of the shows that have lasted several seasons. You can find it on streaming Netflix, by the way, under the name “Surface.”

**** The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson – An excellent work of non-fiction, contrasting the struggles and successes of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 with the predations, during the same time and in the same location, of America’s first known serial killer, H.H. Holmes. I started reading the book because of a vague interest in Holmes, but I’ll admit that the story of the World’s Fair stole my heart. It’s a mind-boggling story, and I highly recommend it.

* Sister: A Novel, by Rosamund Lupton – This, on the other hand, was seriously so-so. I picked it up because I’d seen it on a couple lists of recommended summer reading. It’s okay; nothing special. I’m pretty sure I finished it, but to be honest I have very little recollection of it at all.

*** Big Machine: A Novel, by Victor LaValle – There’s no way I can describe this book. It’s weird from the get-go. But it was a fascinating read, partly because it made me realize just how seldom I’ve ever read anything written from a contemporary black male perspective. Fascinating for that alone. Waaaaay better than Sister: A Novel. If you’re only gonna read one novel this summer, I recommended Big Machine: A Novel over Sister: A Novel.

**** A Little Death in Dixie, by Lisa Turner – When I got to the end of this book and eagerly started searching for more from this writer, I was stunned to discover that this is her first novel. Damn, girl. That’s a good one for a starter! Again, there’s nothing overly unusual about the plot, but the writing is nice and clean, the plot gallops along, the characters are three-dimensional, and it’s set it Memphis. Can’t beat that.

**** Forever Queen, by Helen Hollick – This was a 99-cent book from Kindle, otherwise I might never have read it. That would have been my loss. Forever Queen reminded me of how much I used to love historical fiction. It’s a fictionalized account of the life of Aelfgifu, better known as Emma, a young Norman girl who, in 1002 or thereabouts, was married to Aethelred, King of England. She survived him and married Cnut (Canute), a Dane who became king in 1016 of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and England and proved to be a good king for 20 years. She also was the mother to two kings, serving as regent for one of them for several years. She was also the first English queen to have a biography written of her. Hollick, the author, is a dedicated researcher and this story reads very well while retaining as much historical accuracy as possible.

Queen Emma’s great-nephew, by the way, famously returned from Normandy to England in 1066, and changed everything.

*** The Book of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura – An awful lot of public domain books are available for the Kindle for free. This is one of them. It’s a lovely meditation on Japan, Japanese culture, and, almost incidentally, tea. I read the whole thing with delight, unable to determine any time period for the writing. Afterward (to the WikiMobile!) I was startled to discover that the author died before WWI. The writing has an ageless quality that I found remarkably soothing and easy to read. There’s an awful lot about flower arrangement, too. It’s a short book, and well worth the time for anyone with any interest in Japanese culture.

And that’s it for now. I’m waiting fairly impatiently for midnight and the magical appearance of  “A Dance With Dragons” on my Kindle. After which I’ll disappear for a few days. ;D

Nothing like a good book.

 

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It Ain’t Easy Being Green

Most of us try, I think, to be good people. The definition of “a good person,” unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be comfortably clear-cut. For instance, I try to be environmentally friendly whenever possible. We try to find good foods, to avoid engineered fruits and vegetables and over-fished or polluted meats and fish. I give whenever and whatever I can to those in need. We recycle everything we can recycle here in our small town. And I try to live by the principle of treating others the way I’d like them to treat me: Basically, letting people alone to live their private lives in private. That applies to everything from how people choose to worship to who and how they love to what medical treatment they choose to get or not get … and more.

But it isn’t easy.

Case in point: There aren’t a lot of organic farms here in north Mississippi. Not a lot of people raising and selling grass-fed livestock. So we try to support the few when we can. One of the things we’d been seriously considering was buying some beef from a local farm that raises grass-fed, no growth-hormone cows. What a cool idea, right? And we have freezer space, so we could buy a fair amount and eat it through the coming winter.

All good.

But in an apparently unrelated issue, the American Family Association (remember them? Don Wildmon and the whole anti-Hollywood, anti-TV, anti-pretty much everything crowd?) is one of the major sponsors of something called the Mississippi Personhood Amendment.  http://www.personhoodmississippi.com/amendment-26/what-it-says.aspx It’s a particularly vile piece of wanna-be legislation that they’ve managed to get put on ballots in the upcoming election. Basically, it defines life as beginning at fertilization, whether by the “traditional” method, cloning, in-vitro or whatever. This sly piece of anti-woman propaganda would have long-lasting repercussions on all sorts of things, including stem cell research, the right of a woman to live her own life and more. It’s a classic gambit to give control of women’s lives over to someone other than themselves.

So. Grass-fed beef.

The Mississippi Personhood Amendment folks have thoughtfully made available a web site which lists, among other things, politicians and businesses who support this underhanded amendment. The list has most of the usual suspects but also, dang it, the grass-fed beef people.

Well heck.

So buying the beef would support environmentally friendly cattle-raising methods and strike a blow for small farms against giant agrabusiness. But it would support folks who believe that women should not have the right to control their own bodies. I completely resent being put in the position of having to choose. But I do.

Looks like a noodle kind of winter.

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Saturday Saves 7/9/11

These are things that have made me happy or thoughtful or sad or… something. Today.

First, what a great idea! I plan to be cremated, since the planet needs neither my body moldering in a casket or releasing a bunch of needless petrochemicals into the ground. So why not just let death give birth to a tree!

http://bigthink.com/ideas/38299

Here’s two minutes of nothing but gorgeous. This is a video link, so click with caution if you have a slow connection.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=21294655

Scroll to the bottom one. Yeah. That’s all I’m sayin’. ;D

http://io9.com/5819583/30-comic+con-exclusives-that-youd-pawn-off-your-organs-for?popular=true

And from the person who rarely finds a horse story she doesn’t like, a good one….

http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/computers/stories/vermont-uses-draft-horse-to-lay-cable-for-internet-access

If I had the foggiest idea how to do shirring, I might try making one of these. Sadly, my sewing expertise = not so great.  I bet I could do it with elastic, though, now that I think about it.

http://sewlikemymom.com/the-shirt-skirt/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-shirt-skirt

Beautiful photo! I always wonder how in the world the photographer manages something like this.

http://img1.socwall.com/Nature/Landscapes/201018064733-18252.jpg

For those into genealogy, a handy list of state-specific info links.

http://www.n2genealogy.com/

And that’s enough surfing for today. More next time!

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Gainful Employment ‘R Us

Today’s challenge is to remember my first job, including how much I was paid. That’s a tougher question than you might think.

Was my first job when I used to iron clothes for people, mostly extended family members? If so, then I was paid between a dime and a quarter per piece, depending on size and difficulty.

Or was my first job when I went to graduate school on a teaching assistantship? Mostly I got to take classes for free, but I was paid some small pittance. I honestly can’t remember how much it was, but I remember than mac and cheese was four boxes for a dollar back then. I ate a LOT of mac and cheese in grad school.

I guess you could call selling Avon right after I finished grad school my first job, but to be honest, I was possibly the worst Avon salesperson in the history of the company. I sold plenty of Avon – don’t get me wrong. I had very good sales. Problem was, I felt bad for my customers, who were pretty much all as poor as me, so I sold it all at cost. Yep, I sold a fair amount of goods and didn’t make a penny. I suppose I should have known at that point that I was never going to be a successful capitalist.

After that, I worked the evening shift at a quickie mart for a while. Don’t remember how much I got paid there, either, although I suspect it wasn’t much. I had fun, though. You learn interesting things about your town when you’re working the night shift at (the then) only quikmart open all night.

I worked for a local school system for two years, one as a support staff person who tried to teach teachers how to incorporate new-fangled videos into their teaching. The other year was as a teacher of remedial reading to ninth-graders who had somehow gotten that far in school and never learned to read functionally. That was an educational year for me. I learned that although I love teaching, I don’t love all teaching equally. I came to understand that when I went home trembling at the end of the day and found myself actually hoping some of my students might get hurt or arrested so they wouldn’t come back to class, I was probably in the wrong place. Yep.

So then I got into the newspaper biz, by stumbling head-first into an ads sales job that I was in no way qualified for, and the rest, as they say, is history.

As for how much I was paid… Let’s call the newspaper job my first real job. As I recall, I was paid something like $150 week, more or less. That might be a little high. I was renting a small house from my great-aunt for $100/month, and rent, car upkeep, utilities, and food kept me pretty much living from check to check. Sometimes even falling behind.

Different time. Different me. The world was less complicated then, it seems in memory. But it was rich, and I was happy. What more can a person ask?

 

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Crime and Punishment

No, I’m not joining the mobs of voices decrying or cheering the Casey Anthony verdict. I’m talking about the original “Crime and Punishment,” the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky, published in Russia in 1866.

I finally read it.

Somehow nobody forced me to read this classic, all the way through high school and six years of college, and I only just now managed to bull my way through it, thanks to Kindle. Yeah, something about having all those daunting pages just show up a page at a time in pixilworld made it seem less daunting. Not a lot less daunting, mind you. Just enough.

So I finally read it. From start to finish, it took about a month. Admittedly I took a two-week break in the middle because I just couldn’t stand to pick it up again, it was making me so crazy. But last night I finished it. And as an initial reaction, I have to say … huh. Classic psychological drama. Right.

I understand what this book is supposed to be about. Alienation. The inner life of the criminal mind. The psychology of guilt. I understand that. I just don’t see it in the book.

Raskalnikov (he of the many names, like every other character), the protagonist, is unlikeable from the start, at least to me. He comes across as one of those whiny brats who thinks he’s so much better than everyone else that anything he does must be okay. Period. He accepts the kindness of others with ill will, grumpiness and a cavalier attitude that just made me want to throttle him. So he’s poor. Got it. But every time someone gives money to him, often at difficulty to themselves, he just throws it away. Sometimes almost literally.

As for his psychological wrestling with his crime, I saw none of that. I read a lot of thrashing about not wanting to get caught, but he almost never thought about the double murder itself. He felt no guilt, only fear of punishment. He felt no remorse, only that continuing intellectual whining as he see-sawed between playing games with the police and his friends and collapsing onto the sofa in his garret. His “oh, poor me” fainting routine was overdone the first time. We won’t even get into the later ones.

And then there’s Sonia. Saintly Sonia. So pure. So beautiful. So innocent. So religious. So…. a prostitute. Sorry, I just can’t go there. The hooker with the heart of gold has been done to death. Granted, this might be one of the earlier ones, but I found myself wanting to slap her, too. According to the analyses I read earlier, trying to figure out what I was “supposed” to get out of this book, Sonia’s pure love saves Raskalnikov. Sorry. I didn’t get that.

The only thing that happened with Raskal and Sonia was that he was creepy at first, and then creepier, and then creepiest. And the fact that she didn’t run away screaming says, to me, more about the deadness of her heart than about love. She has given up.

He finally confesses, basically, out of spite because nobody could figure out that he was the murderer. I could almost see him in my mind, flouncing in a tragically emo fashion into the police station, draping himself over a chair and announcing, “Oh, fine. You’re all too stupid to figure it out. I’m the murderer. This is soooo boring. I think I’ll faint, or have a sudden fever.”

All that said, I’m glad I finally read the book. I feel much more educated now. And it did have a couple of nifty creepy images that’ll stick with me. Crazy Raskal forcing Crazy Sonia to read aloud the story of Lazarus from the Bible by the light of a single flickering candle in her tiny room. Not sure what it was supposed to mean, but it was creepy as all get out. And then there’s the character whose names starts with an S, who may or may not be a crazy deviant pervert who talks with his dead wife and gives away money like it was flowing from his fingers, who walks out to a bridge overlooking part of the city, muses on the beauty of it, and shoots himself in the head.

Ooookay.

So. Crazy crime and punishment with crazy inexplicable people doing nutty things and getting away with it didn’t start with O.J. and Casey Anthony. That’s for sure.

And, oh yeah, I don’t expect to be re-reading “Crime and Punishment” any time soon. Did  I read the wrong Dostoevsky? Let me know!

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Watching the struggle

Few things are as tough as watching your child struggle with something and not being able to help.

The economy has led to her still being unemployed, more than a year past college graduation. She’s had one short-term job, and has been working diligently on trying to make and sell her beautiful one-of-a-kind origami earrings, but this month, for the first time, she wasn’t able to make her car payment. I worry that her self-concept is taking a beating, but she doesn’t want to talk about it.

Right now she’s got a custom job on hold which would help a lot. She’s also got two jobs that she’s short-listed for, but that basically means just… wait.

I want to help, but what can I do? It’s just very frustrating.

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