Archive for the 'Books' Category

30
Apr
14

Girls Who Read

01
Apr
14

The Ideal Woman

from The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton:

The ideal woman, in his mind, was one devoted to the project of her own enhancement, who was accomplished in the female arts of embroidery, piano-playing, pressing leaves, and the like; who sang sweetly, read quietly, and demurred to all opinion; who was a charming and priceless collectible; who loved, above all things, to be loved.”

Woman_at_piano_Wallpaper_pzdk6

Well at least there’s the piano-playing.

 

14
May
13

the week in pictures

When a student of mine graduates from high school, I always buy them Michael Jordan’s I Can’t Accept Not Trying. I found the book way back in the ’90s, and found it to be inspirational and to resonate from athletics to music to life, as so many things do.

It’s been out of print for a while, so when I need a copy now I must buy them used. I have a student graduating, and an upper-level high schooler moving this year, so I just acquired two copies. Opening them up to write a little note, I discovered this:

dedication

Isn’t that sweet?

The book has never been opened.

Mark’s a loser. Mom clearly overestimated his ability to read, process, and appreciate the messages regarding tenacity, discipline, and commitment contained therein.

Is that ironic?

Actually, that’s not even the case, since Mark never bothered to read it. Mark didn’t even respect his loving and devoted mother enough to READ IT.

Mark’s a loser. Mom’s admiration is misdirected. I’m deeply saddened by the dismissiveness embodied in the fact that this book was sold to me for $1.99 (I paid a LOT more for shipping than I did for the book; is that ironic?), discarded by a thoughtless and inconsiderate young man.

Next.

Three guesses which magazine this is on the back cover of:

yoga thighs

 My letter to the editor:

I am profoundly disappointed by the photo featured on the back cover of the June 2013 issue of Yoga Journal.

I read the magazine as part of an ongoing pursuit of a balanced, meaningful, enlightened life. A reference to, and picture of, a pole dancer does not seem to be in support of this.

I try to overlook the fact that the majority of your yoga models have super-model body types; I try to overlook the ads that feature women who are “skinny” rather than healthy and fit. But this seems to go too far. There are so many images in the media portraying unrealistic body types for women, sending subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle messages to women about how they should look and conveying the idea that women are primarily sexual objects. I would hope that YJ could be one place that didn’t.

I also like to leave the magazine out for piano students, friends, my daughter, to leaf through. This one I feel I need to hide. 

Kathryn Budig is finally clothed, but we have an image of a woman participating in the sex trade on the back instead.

It seems that more thought could be put into these types of things, and some editorial guidance might be more judiciously applied. 

Meanwhile, I will be looking for a different yoga magazine to subscribe to.

Sigh.

***

In pursuit of a balanced, meaningful, enlightened life, I planted some perennials and annuals and a bush and a tree yesterday. I decided, in my infinite wisdom, since I was planting some 4″ pots in the midst of a lot of very persistent ground cover, to use the small planting shovel.

Here is my right palm:

bruised hand

The circles are around bruises (the arrow thing wouldn’t make an arrow).

They really hurt.

I’m a pianist. This was really really stupid.

I could barely stand to push the cart at costco today, and this is NOT a commentary on the sizes of the packages contained therein (although do we really need to buy ziploc sandwich bags 600 at a time?).*

Hopefully next week will be a little less ridiculous.

*We are spending a lot less on groceries.

12
Apr
13

more than one way to mourn (shaping, weighing, testing. . .)

Really struggling this week.

Don’t know if it’s the grass-is-always-greener syndrome, or something I should actually pay attention to, but am finding the seemingly constant and often frustrating nature of much of my professional life to be particularly difficult to deal with.

After mom died I quit most of my adjunct work (life’s too short to be an indentured servant), and have been all the happier for it. I don’t know if all of this is telling me I should reevaluate my professional choices thus far, the options I could pursue going forward; or if I should just sigh and realize that this is life and just deal with it.

Anyway, I have this beautiful book by Ann Carson called Nox that I find myself re-reading bits and pieces (or all of it — it only takes about 20 minutes) of over the past couple of years. It’s written as an elegy to her brother, who died mysteriously in Denmark after something like 20 years of estrangement from his family.

It’s very lovely.

Ann is a Greek scholar and author, of a particularly epigraphic and poetic bent.

Ran across this last night:

He makes out of myrrh an egg as big as he can carry. Then he tests it to see if he can carry it. After that he hollows out the egg and lays his father inside and plugs up the hollow. With father inside the egg weighs the same as before. Having plugged it up he carries the egg to Egypt to the temple of the sun. (Hekataios)  

Hekataios is describing the sacred phoenix which lived in Arabia but came to Heliopolis in Egypt once every five hundred years to bury a father there. The phoenix mourns by shaping, weighing, testing, hollowing, plugging and carrying toward the light. He seems to take a clear view of necessity. And in the shadows that flash over him as he makes his way from Arabia to Egypt maybe he comes to see the immensity of the mechanism in which he is caught, the immense fragility of his own flying – composed as it is of these ceaselessly passing shadows carried backward by the very motion that devours them, his motion, his asking.

I can’t decide if I want to, or even can, carry anything “toward the light.”

I am trying very hard to take a clear view of necessity.

I feel very, very fragile.

I wish I could stop asking.

***

I posted this on our private family blog last night, and one of my sisters wrote a really nice note back (thanks, C). We are all feeling it (alas, I am not original; only sad), which I am sure helps. The world is so quick to forget what you’ve lost, or doesn’t have time to care all that much.

Your parents knew you first, so I think you will always feel that, in some ways, they loved you best. They may not have been the parents you thought you needed, but they were your parents, and knew you first. . .

I feel I’ve come unmoored, even though I have lots of people in my life who probably know me better than they did.

It’s so hard to explain — like I’m made of paper, and the strings that held me up have been cut, but I haven’t started to fall yet, but I know I will.

Or something.

paperstar

 

 

12
Mar
13

is it really true?

Two thoughts, as I head off to bed to start reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.

I commented to Husband tonight that the three most loyal and vocal followers on my blog are all men* (and he’s not one of them; guess he hears enough from me in the real world). He replies that he thinks that there are quite a lot of men out there who really appreciate and enjoy women, and that women, often, are not really all that supportive of each other.

While I think this is not true in terms of personal relationships — except for him, all of my truly close friends in my “real” life are women, I do think it can be true professionally.

And this got me thinking about something Ms. Sandberg apparently says in her book (I am remembering this from an interview; perhaps the NPR one I referenced a few posts ago) — that women look around at the few other women around “the table,” and realize that only one of them is going to get promoted, as the token Woman in a Position of Power, so, therefore, the other women are her direct competitors. And not in a we’re-all-going-to-do-our-best-and-whoever-does-it-best-gets-the-prize-GO-Team!!!; but in a we’re-all-going-to-do-our-best-and-whoever-doesn’t-piss-off-the-most-men-by-appearing-to-be-shrill-or-godforbidbossyassertive-is-g0ing-to-get-the-prize.

She wants us to demand a place at the table, to raise our hands, to speak our minds.

But what about when we’ve done that, over and over and over again, and it’s only hurt us?

Then what?

. . .  Guess I’ll have to read the book and find out.

Or maybe not.

*Thank you oldblack, Quieter Elephant, and TEStazyk

28
Feb
13

how do they know?

I’m surprised now and again by young authors (Jonathan Safran Foer) or playwrights (Annie Baker) who seem to be wise beyond their years. I wrote about this when I wrote about Safran Foer’s story “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly.”

Today, I read an article in the February 25 issue of the New Yorker about Ms. Baker. (And just now noticed, as I was pasting in the link, that the article is titled “Just Saying.” Weird.)

She is talking about a dramatic transformation from her sternly moralistic self at the age of 23, when she realized “. . .that she, too, would make mistakes and hurt people,” and this “annihilated her.”  The article continues: “It’s this crisis in her understanding the helped impel her to make the emotional teachers in her play–the beacons of moral honor–people who are themselves failing in full-fledged adulthood. ‘The story of their lives might not immediately appear to be exemplary or what the younger character would want,’ she explains. ‘But there’s a kind of transcendence and nobility they embody through having not lived the lives they wanted to.'”

She’s 31.

How does she know this already?

17
Oct
12

speaking of keeping your eye on the light

Heard Salman Rushdie on NPR’s “The Story” for the few minutes I was in the car tonight. (Yes, I renewed my membership. Yes I asked for the Thank You gift. Yes, I donated $10 more than I planned to alleviate my guilt. Yes, I was raised Catholic. Any more questions?)

Anyway, he was talking about how he really felt a sense of accomplishment in keeping his ability to write books in a way that would not reveal the circumstances in which he was living. To paraphrase*:

I didn’t want to think about the fact that I was living in a small, afraid little world, in which case I would write these small afraid little books; and I didn’t want to think about being bitter or angry because then that would come through and those books would be miserable too. I really pride myself on the fact that someone who didn’t know the circumstances of my life from 1989 to 1998 could pick up any of the books on a shelf that were written by me in that time frame and still would not know that I was living under a fatwa.

What an inspiring example of the triumph of the human spirit and of mind over matter.

You can listen here. I’d listen and actually quote, but it’s past my bedtime.

 

 
*I am paraphrasing. I can’t find a transcript. I apologize if I don’t have it exactly right.




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