Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Full Speed Ahead!

It's time to start again.

And I'm not just saying that because I moved.  I'm saying that because I feel like everything in my life is different, and I'm trying to just plain keep going.  I need a lot of things, most of which I really don't want to discuss here.  Mostly, I could use a new direction -- something to set goals for and to move towards and work for that isn't watching all the seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in three weeks.

Thank god for old connections.  See, this past year, I wasn't. . .oh what's the word. . .intellectually challenged hardly at all.  Oh sure, I had a ton of mental stress, but I emphasize now that it is not quite the same deal.  I mean, I read.  Sure, I read.  But I didn't read a whole lot that I would say furthered my professional education.  Maybe one or two books, but even then I don't really remember any too much like that.  So when one of my old professors mentioned to me in March that maybe we could do an independent study come summer, and then when I suddenly had plenty of time to spare on my hands, I thought: "Yes!  This is it!  I am ready to start thinking and learning again!"

So here I am, talking about how excited I am to start being ultra dorky again.  The topic of the "class" is essentially nation and migration, particularly concerning the Indian diaspora in other parts of the Imperial Commonwealth, preferably pre-20th century.  The reason I want to know about this is because I know that Indian upper middle class men sent their promising (or not so promising coughGandhicough) sons to Britain to be educated.  But what about everybody else?  And what about the people who stayed in Britain?  The founder of Pakistan lived and worked quite happily as an adult in the UK for like fifteen years.  And what about their fathers?  Did they go to school in Britain too?  Anyhow, I want to know about these things.  And if I can get grad school credit somehow, all the better.

On the other hand, I'm going to need something to read aside from academic books (or else my brain will be fried).  And as much as I'm enjoying sitting so much on our giant and hugely comfortable couch, methinks my waistline will not forgive me for doing that all summer.  So, I have picked out fun books in an attempt to get me out from in front of the TV and then maybe that will prompt me to get off my butt and go run around in Flagstaff a bit.  I'm still working on Bleak House (gimme a break, it is a summer project), and I just picked up The Folded Earth, which should prove to be like an Arundhati Roy book except it's by a lady named Anuradha Roy.  I know, I definitely had to look up and see if they were related.  Here's something funny -- this page put a red squiggly line under the second name but not the first.  Weird.

So I guess what I'm saying is while everything around me is churning with change I am trying desperately to hold onto something familiar that I'm good at: school.  And Backstreet Boys.  Or, more loosely, the good ol' songs that I love and listen to ALL THE TIME.  And my hubby.  He must get annoyed at me sometimes because there are definitely days where I'm like a leech, just hanging onto him for dear life.  I am ridiculously lucky he is so supportive or I would've given up on the entire move thing last week, would've shelled out the extra cash to break my lease, and high-tailed it back to the Valley.  Let's be honest.  But having someone to stand next to you and hold your hand really helps.  It grounds you and let's you be brave.

And I will be brave.  I will stick out the tough times and I will hang on to what's beautiful and happy and I will be just fine.  That's my new mantra.  Well, okay, I have a lot of mantras, but that's the one for this week.  That, or "oatmeal raisin cookies are delicious".

P.S., my computer crashed hardcore this past weekend.  And when I say "crashed," I mean it crashed onto the bathroom floor and bent the harddrive completely out of whack.  Yes, I am a bad computer mommy.  Since then, I have had to rename my computer.  It is temporarily renamed "Bernard" (it was "Bernadette") but somehow I don't think that's right.  It's like I gave my computer a sex change, but I didn't.  I gave it a new soul, not new naughty bits.  So the search for a new name kind of continues.  I'm toying with "Gunther" but mostly I think this computer is a bit of an old lady.  Perhaps "Olive".  Yeah, I kinda like Olive.  Olive, I love you.  Hahahahaha.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Slant-wise and Upside-down

How I feel about this book is much like how I've been feeling about my life recently.


The better word for this novel is probably something more along the lines of: shifting realitites. Or some such nonsense.

Becky Thatcher. We all remember her from that classic, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. She's Tom's big love interest, and can you blame him? The shy glances, the twin braids, the gingham! But, according to this novel, Becky: The Life and Loves of Becky Thatcher, little old Samuel Clemens took a few liberties with the veracity of that story.

In this novel, Becky Thatcher is nothing if not fiery. She is a tough old soul who keeps getting thrown curveballs by life and takes them with determination and dignity. I'd say "like a man," but more and more I'm realizing that phrases like that don't hold with the truth of the matter. And so does she. She basically does what she likes. She runs with Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn at nights around Hannibal, MO (a fact Mr. Twain conveniently left out), Injun Joe was, in fact, innocent and wasn't actually planning on killing them, and Tom Sawyer did not rescue her from that cave of death. Along the way, there is much more for the reader to enjoy, far past the familiar story-line of Tom Sawyer. There is love and loss and shame and guilt and PROSPECTING. Everyone enjoys a good bit of prospecting. The main theme here is that Mark Twain twisted the truth so much that it was no longer the real version of what had happened. Becky Thatcher is merely setting the record straight. It makes for an exciting story. There's the familiar plotline of Tom Sawyer woven into the rest of her story -- how she marries Tom's cousin Sid, goes off to war to try and bring him home safe, how they eventually travel West, and how Tom Sawyer never really seems to be out of their lives. He is a powerful character, even when she hates the fact that she is so easily influenced by him. He is the one thing in her life that she can never, ever hope to change or erase from her existence. We've all had that one love (or just person) who we can't get rid of from our minds and our hearts, no matter how hard we try. They linger and fester there, and if we never get the chance to really love them and be loved by them, that old hurt just continues to ferment and torment. Some people can find peace, but others, like Becky Thatcher, are doomed to forever focus on that one person like a haunting death wish. The one caveat I have for people wanting to read this book is: it does really help to be familiar with the Tom Sawyer story. When I was in school, they made us read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and he's in there a lot, but this story isn't about him. It's about Tom, and unless you're like me and read Tom just because you wanted some extra fun (yes, that was why I read it), then maybe this isn't the book for you. If you have read Tom Sawyer, then delve right in. It's kind of a beach read -- not too straining on the dendrytes, I'll say, but it's not a super trashy romance novel. And, let's be honest here. You would be a million times better off reading this than Snooki's book (if you can call it a book). It's not Charles Dickens (oh what a snob I am) but it is fun. As for myself, this might be my last fun book for a while. But probably not. I can't seem to resist a good fluffy book. I just started up a new independent study (whether or not it's for credit remains to be seen) with one of my old professors, so I'm going to have a lot of researching to do with that one. Then, I have my Dickens novel to chip away at over the course of the summer (I WILL FINISH IT MWAHAHAHA), and after that, we'll just have to see. I could use a few recommendations, as always. And hopefully, as my reading becomes more regular and orderly, so will my life. One can only hope.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wide Open Spaces

Confession:  I am terrified of moving.

Half of me is the very adventurous type, the let's dunk our whole head underwater and devil-take-the-hindmost type.  The other half of me is the very conservative type.  Not the Rush-Limbaugh-listening, pro-life protesting, gun-toting Republican we've all come to love.  I mean the "boy, that bridge sure does look a little creaky, I think I'm going to take the long way around" type.

Granted, if someone else is being a chicken, then I'm Mrs. "Step Up and Jump in the Freezing Water First".  It's a very odd thing but completely true.  I've even talked to my cousin about it and she has this syndrome too. And, fortunately or unfortunately, I'm married to "Nothing Ever Phases Me" Philip.  Hahaha.  I'm gonna go with fortunately.  But it does tend to make me a little more cautious when nothing ever rumples his feathers.

But this time, I am determined to not be scared.  Or too scared, anyhow.  Change genuinely is good.  I know that's what people always say and everybody always rolls their eyes, but seriously, people!  Change is the only constant.  Oooooooohhh.  Change is the entire reason I can study history.  If there was no change, life would be super boring!  So I want to see you get up, RIGHT NOW, and do a happy dance for change.  That's it, shake that thang.  Yes, I am a gangsta.

Things are changing quite drastically for us.  We're moving to a different city where, granted, I've lived before, but we'll really be striking out on our own.  We're getting an apartment all to ourselves, and for the first time so far (all three weeks of it) being really able to call ourselves a settled married couple.  Soooo excited about that.  I'm already planning holiday decorations.  And Halloween costumes.  I got a new, full-time job, which will just about pay all our bills.  Philip's looking into a part-time job and he's going to finish up school.  We're going to buy our dream couch.  We're going to put away our books on our bookshelves and sit on our couch and watch our TV.  We're really on our way to something.

So things are scary in that they're very different (I mean, I'm going to be a preschool teacher.  I think I'll kick butt at it, but still.  15 children under the age of 4 for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week is going to be a unique experience for me), but it's a good different at the same time.

To that end, I have decided to give this transition ITS OWN THEME SONG.  Theme songs are great and I recommend everyone get one.  I have several.  Now, if someone wants to write me a Vegetable Subduer theme song, I will remunerate them in the form of delicious baked goods.  Probably cookies.  Which are not biscuits, biscuits you put gravy on.  Get it right, British-type peoples.  Anyhow, please write me a theme song.  And further anyhow, I don't care if you don't like country, this song is AWESOME.  And it's my new theme song for three weeks.  And very applicable since we're moving up north, where there is a potential for said spaces.  If you sing this song in, say, San Francisco, you feel very silly indeed.  Here she goes!