Saturday, August 18, 2007

In Which I Finish A Novel
I was invited to join a meetup group, a read group for lesbian literature. I accepted the invitation and waited to hear what the first book chosen would be. As luck would have it, the first book chosen is by one of my favorite writers. (Rob woud say that most of my favorite writers are lesbians but he exaggerates!) They chose Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Ony Fruit, her first novel.
I had read another coming of age lesbian novel last year so I was excited that not only would I get to read another but I would get to read Winterson again. I even invited three people whom I thought might be interested in joining me in the writing group. Two of the three expressed interest but it remains to be seen if any will actually follow through.
That said, I ordered the book and read it. It arrived yesterday so clearly it is an easy read. I anticipated that this would not be one of my preferred Winterson books. I was right. Because this was her first book, many of the qualities which I love about her later works are evident but not powerful. You can definitely see how she has progresssed as an artist.
In other words, this was not one of my favorites. It is good. Not Winterson good. But definitely better than most first novels. However, I was uncomfortable with one aspect. The parents of the protagonist are fundamental Christians. When their daughter starts disdovering her own sexuality, their response is not tolerant. In fact, it borders on the extreme. Whatever redemption or reconciliation is implied, I wish that parents who don't understand their homosexual children in novels didn't always have to be Christian. Yes, I realize I haven't read every coming-of-age lesbian (or homosexual) novel out there so I am basing this on the few I have read but still . . . it would be nice to have parents who are reasonably conflicted but struggle to understand and respec their children in spite of their own expectations of who and what their children ought to be.
Still, better than most fiction out there. Far better than most of the fiction that makes it to the best seller lists.

Friday, August 17, 2007

In Which I Write Randomly About So Many Things

I am feeling a little scattered, my mind moving in many directions. I used to post all sorts of randomness in my LJ on Fridays (quizzes, quotes, excerpts from emails) so it seems somehow reminiscent to write something random today. Besides, it will give you, dear reader, some insight into where my head is. (I believe it is still attached but I haven’t looked in the mirror lately.)

One: I received the book SoulCollage in the mail today. In trade for buying this one book, I am giving away three books on crafting that have been taking up space on my bookcase. I bought this book because I belong to a group that is going to start making these cards/collages and I was invited to join in. I opened the book and was a little disappointed that it was not all colorful and glossy. Then, as I continued to flip through, after noticing that there is one small section of colored images near the middle, I came to the realization that having these black and white images afforded me an opportunity to play with coloring some of these other people’s cards in with colored pencils. I think I will use that as an entry meditative practice before creating my own cards. (They do have some of the book's black and white images at the website.)

Two: I don’t really have a lot of magazines and I need lots and lots of images so I think I am going to send an email to all of my GA friends to feel free to horde all of their magazines and catalogues with the knowledge that I will be using and then recycling them. Otherwise all of my cards will be full of images of people meditating and doing yoga.

Three: My daughter turns 25 on Monday. She is not very excited but she never is about her birthday. Quite different from me because anyone who knows me knows that I get very excited about everyone’s birthday, including my own.

Four: I talked with Mary yesterday and I said something really brilliant—Having casual sex with you would not be casual for me. I want to use this in a story or a poem. It is such a good line! No wonder my friends call me for advice. I not only give it to them but I give it poetically.

Five: Speaking of writing . . . there are three projects on the table.

The first is a chapbook of my poems which was part of my nanowrimo experience last year. Although I did not write 50,000 words, I did get a good foundation for what could be a very interesting chapbook. Janice and I talked about it the other day and she strongly encouraged me to get to the next step of organizing it. Right now the fragments are not cohesive, following no timeline whatsoever. I need to organize the fragments into a story arch.

The second is a workbook cum workshop on chakras. Not that I am an expert on chakras but I haven’t found a book on working with chakras that I like so I feel a desire to create one for myself. I have folders to help me organize the different sections and simply need to get started.

The third, The 3-Day Novel Contest, is the least likely of the three because it requires a financial investment which I am not in a position to make at this time. But if I were to do it, I would have to start thinking about plot and characters NOW to be ready for this year’s start date of September 1st. The deadline for registration is the 31st of this month. Under the circumstances, both financial and timing, I am probably not going to break myself giving it a try.

Six: Deleted for personal reasons

Seven: I am currently reading several books, as usual, so expect not only book reviews but, more importantly, some responses to them. At least two of the books I am reading will require a bit of both because they are so dense with information. I don’t want to just read them, I want to share my reading experience along with you.

Eight: I don’t really have an eighth thought at the moment except that I’ve had insomnia twice this week so that may explain why I am so scattered in my thinking today. Who knows?

Nine: Hey! I didn’t even have a good eight so why would I have a nine?

Ten: Seriously, why are you still reading this list when I obviously have nothing else?

Eleven: Feel free to leave comments, ask questions, whatever. I am going to stop now.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

In Which Romanov and I Have a Reiki Moment I actually posted this on a journaling group yesterday but since I had already posted once here, I opted to wait until today to copy this message to my blog. Last week, we took Romanov to the vet because we felt a small lump on his neck. As it turns out, he had a small sore there where he was possibly bitten and, because he had scratched it too much, it was bleeding. What we felt was blood caked in his thick Siberian Husky fur. It was a relief to find this out and when he came home with a patch of his fur shaved and neosporin . . . and Rob . . . I knew all would be well. Days later, however, there was still slight streaks of blood in his white fur. I told Rob that I didn't think the neosporin was a good idea and rather than do that we should try something else. "Why don't you do Reiki on him?" Rob suggested and thought, "Okay. Why not?" In the past when I've tried to do this for him, he's balked. From a very relaxed sleepy state he would get up and walk away from me to lie down somewhere else. But this time he not only let me do it but his ears didn't flatten out as they do whenever Daddy (aka Rob) put neosporin on the spot and he did this little licky thing he does when he is being pet and it feels soooo gooood! He didn't let me do a complete Reiki session on him without his fidgeting a bit but he was far more patient with what I was doing than ever before. My hands were warm, as always, and could feel the energy flowing through me. Considering that everyone I know (family and friends) know that I do Reiki and each of them has reasons to let me do Reiki on them (whether they are stressed out or suffering from a stroke or even a chronic case of neuropathy) and yet nobody would actually let me do it for/with them, it was nice to finally have someone stay still for me to do it at all. But the kicker is this . . . today is two days later. Yesterday I had noticed that I didn't think it was still bleeding. Rob checked it out last night and said it looks better. This morning he said the spot is finally healing. So Rob, in his flippant sardonic way, made a suggestion that was obviously exactly what puppy needed. I will be giving him a session later today. If he lets me do it then I know he still needs some healing and if he gets up and walks away to lie down somewhere else . . . well, I'll know that he is not only better but follow the old maxim to let sleeping dogs lie. Aries Horoscope for week of August 16, 2007 "Dear Rob: Have your apprentices been composing your column lately? Or have you outsourced the writing to Vedic fortune-tellers in Calcutta? The horoscopes just don't sound like you. They're, I don't know, goofier or something. Have you been smoking more dope than usual? - Lonely for the Old Rob." Dear Lonely: I always write every horoscope, and I never take drugs. In fact, I think it's YOU that have changed. Many of you Aries have been so deeply immersed in mutation lately that you don't realize how much you've mutated. You assume everyone around you is different only because you don't know how different you've become. PS: Some websites with Reiki information. The first is less biased than the others.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In Which I Finish a Book of Poems I love Linda Pastan’s poetry. To choose only one poem from The Last Uncle would be a challenge, at best. Truth is, it is nearly impossible. While I didn’t love every poem, I liked almost every one of them. The few that I loved were ones that were especially true for me. Which is what is so remarkable about reading her poetry. Pastan’s life is so removed from my own and yet the emotional integrity of her writing resonates far beyond her own experiences. When she writes about traveling to places I have never seen, I still find myself understanding her sense of isolation. Her exploration of her daily life may not be similar to mine but the ritual of existence is something I recognize. With all that said, here are three poems from the collection. One is a fragment of a longer poem. I know I said I would share one poem from each collection I finished, one poem I especially liked but this time . . . well, I made a rule for myself. Now I’m breaking it. In the Garden I tell my dog to sit and he sits and I give him a biscuit. I tell him to come and he comes and sits, and I give him a biscuit again. I tell him to Lie Down! and he sits looking up at me with trust and adoration. I pause. I give him a biscuit. This is the beginning of love and disobedience. I was never meant to be a God. September (from The Months) Their summer romance over, the lovers still cling to each other the way the green leaves cling to their trees in the strange heat of September, as if this time there will be no autumn White Lies When I swore, then, that I loved you, I wasn’t sure I meant it, though I mean it now. And when you said “forever,” you knew the future was bearing down on us, its brakes worn out, completely out of control. In love’s unblinking perjury, fact and fiction smile and embrace— identical twins, separated at birth. You say I still look beautiful. I say we’ll always be together.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Undead and Philosophy ed by Richard Green and K SilemMohammad

In Which I Finish Reading a Book
Our internet was down so this post and two others are waiting in the wings to be posted. Which is probably a good thing. Now I can just sit back and post back written posts until I catch up with the housework. I had a bad vertigo weekend and am still not feeling strong but I have to do something before I get buried under the piles in some random never before seen earthquake in Georgia.

I finished reading The Undead and Philosophy: Chicken Soup for the Soulless edited by Richard Green and K. Silem Mohammad. I should confess that I do not particularly like scary movies. I think most of them rely more on shock and gore than true suspense and fright. My ex husband, on the other hand, loved horror movies. He was especially fond of George Romero’s zombie movies and we owned the trilogy (there has since been a fourth movie made) on vhs. If I had my choice I would have preferred watching vampire movies. Not that I didn’t enjoy watching the zombie movies occasionally. I especially enjoyed the sardonic ones, the zombie movies that were designed to mock themselves. Night of the Comet. Return of the Living Dead. And, more recently, Shawn of the Dead.

With this much core background in my own cinema experience, I figured I would enjoy this book of the Pop Culture and Philosophy Series. I liked a few of the essays. Three. Maybe four. But for the most part, I would have to say that this one was less cohesive than the others (Buffy, Harry Potter, The Matrix—for those of you trying to keep up with what I have and have not read in the series). I liked that they did not have a strictly zombie section and then a focus on vampire section. Mixing up the essays made it easier to work through, frankly. However, most of the essays focused on Romero’s zombies or more recent vampire movies (Frances Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Interview with a Vampire.) What mention was made of the spoof zombie movies was vague and inconsequential, almost dismissive. There was one essay that attempted to explore the significance of Halloween, tracing its history to Celtic roots which suggested that this is probably all new to the reader. Gee . . . thanks for assuming I am ignorant and that you, oh dear essay writer of Celtic history, are somehow enlightening me as I read. 

Thankfully, the tone of condescension was not endemic throughout the text. Still, I would have liked to have seen more discussion of more undead. What about Freddy Krueger? Jason and Micheal . . . perhaps a compare and contrast? And let us not forget Frankenstein who, like the more humorous zombie movies, merely gets dismissive allusions here and there throughout the text. The potential for this book to deeply explore existentialism, the definition of self as body, even the socio-political and sexual dynamics of these movies were overlooked. (Thank you to those contributors to this collection who referenced Barbara Creed’s The Monstrous Feminine: Film, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis. If nothing else I am coming away with a new “to be read” book on my list!)

While other books in the series seemed to have tongue-in-cheek fun (Buffy) or beat the same philosophical argument beyond the point of death (Okay, I get it. Plato’s cave parable and The Matrix. I get it!), this book was just all over the place. In previous editions of the series, the essays were organized thematically in an almost point/counter-point manner (Harry Potter and Buffy). So over all . . . A for effort but this book does not only not live up to its own potential but it does not live up to the standards that other books in the series have established.

 (I will be reading more of this series and up next are any of the following . . . none of which I currently own: Lord of the Rings and Philosophy: One Book to Rule Them All 
Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful Than You Can Imagine 
Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice and the Socratic Way
The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy: The Lion, The Witch, and the Worldview 
The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh of Homer

 As of this review, I am ranking the books by personal favorites as follows:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Loathing in Sunnydale 
Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts 
The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real 
More Matrix and Philosophy: Reloaded and Revolutions Decoded 
The Undead and Philosophy: Chicken Soup for the Soulless)

Edit:  Because I have since added to my collection I shall have to update this list.)

This week August 13 through August 19 This week you demonstrate your big heart and willingness to help others. Monday, the Moon enters your sector of service and volunteerism, and, with your customary flair and desire to get things moving, you spend a lot of time coming up with ways to help out someone you know is in need. You pick up the phone, call agencies for advice, and manage to enlist a lot of support for your associate. That's a great boon for him or her, especially since this person isn't able to do it. Chalk up a gold star for yourself.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

In Which I Experience Some Serious Disappointment One of my favorite websites has changed how they post things. They used to post images and every Sunday (or sometimes Monday) I would go to the site and read the postcards. I often found them amusing. More often I found them intriguing. Occasionally I found them heartbreaking. Today I went to the site and there it was . . . a video montage. Okay. Nice idea but for me it was not as effective. The video moved from one to the next not allowing me the time I wanted to sit with each secret. There was even one that went by before I could finish reading it (thanks to the vertigo slowing me down!) and that added to my frustration. But what makes this so disappointing for me is that this is apparently how they will be doing it from now on. The site says to come back next week for the next video. *sigh* Hopefully I am not alone in not liking the new format. Hopefully they will return to the old way. Because frankly . . . I would have wanted to sit longer with the first card/secret they showed. I needed to sit with it. But it was gone before I could experience the card fully and after four or five more I just shut down the window.