Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Look at this fun meme that I can't do

Here is a fun meme from Karen at Verbatim wherein you look up the very first time you ever used Amazon.com. I'd love to know what I ordered ten years ago or so, whenever I first used it, but I was in a different world back then and wouldn't have a clue what my password might have been. I'm pretty sure I first started using Amazon in 1998 and I have some good guesses what my email address would have been, but no way can I know my password. In 1998 I was 23, now I'm 31, in a house, with a husband, a child, and one on the way. Who knows what password I used in my swinging-single- working-downtown-going-out-for-beers-after-work-and-huge-chunks-of-free-time-every-weekend-kind-of-life I had back then. Oh well, on my current account I can go back to 2003, but that's too recent. I was teaching first grade then and ordered a bunch of teaching related and children's picture books. Blah, who cares. But other people should try it, I think.


Monday, January 29, 2007

A Short Dispatch from Among the Pillows

I can't believe I haven't posted since Jan. 17. I also haven't read any blogs since then and just spent the better part of two hours catching up, and I still have a long way to go until I get all the bolds off my Bloglines list.

I'm dispatching my first post from bed today. We bought each other a laptop for Christmas but haven't had a wireless router until this weekend. Now we do and it's working perfectly. Unfortunately, naptime is almost over so this may be a short-lived moment.

I'm still heavy into Ursula Le Guin and reading Tales from Earthsea right now soon to be followed by the last Earthsea novel, The Other Wind. Then I guess I'll just have to pack my bags and go somewhere else, having stayed in Earthsea for a very long, but pleasurable, time. Tales from Earthsea is a book of short stories set in Earthsea, though not necessarily about the characters familiar from the first four novels. Some are stories predating these characters, going into the far history of Earthsea, and some are more recent and kind of bring you up to speed on how some of the characters came to be or fill you in on adventures they've had that were never mentioned in the other novels. And the last story in the collection, the one I just started today, is a link between the two last Earthsea novels. So it pays to read in order. Not that I would read a series any other way.

Toddler is up, laptop must go down.
34 weeks pregnant and counting.
The End for now.

Labels: ,

Back to Blogging Meme

I feel like whenever I haven't blogged in a long time, I always come back with a meme. I guess it's an easy way to get back into it. Without further ado...

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?
Hardback or trade, I guess. Usually what I want to read is not usually in mass market, except maybe classics, but then they fall apart so easily.

Amazon or brick and mortar?
Oh, a little of both, I suppose. I love getting fun mail, but I do love a visit to the bookstore as well. As long as I get my books and latte BEFORE we go visit the Thomas the Tank playset

Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Well, I used to be a die-hard B&N girl, having worked in two of them, one in the cafe, one on the bookside. But now, Borders is a teensy bit closer to my house (they're both within 3 miles) and sometimes I think they have a wider selection. But this may not be true. B&N definitely has the better cafe.

Bookmark or dogear?

Bookmark, for sure. But I know I used to dogear as a kid. The mistakes of the young.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?

My books are pretty random. They're kind of together by subject, like Buddhist stuff is together, the Best American Essays are all together, books about writing are together, but beyond that, it's a happy mess. I don't think I'd ever alphabetize by title, though.

Keep, throw away, or sell?
I generally keep, occasionally sell, but throw away a book? In the garbage? No.

Keep dustjacket or toss it?
Throw that away in the garbage, too? Weird! Although I do remove the dustjackets from Toddler's books before they go into his general circulation.

Read with dustjacket or remove it?
Leave it on, unless it keeps sliding off, which hasn't happened in awhile.

Short story or novel?
Novel. I really don't like short stories. I've tried. I just don't.

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)?
In the case of short stories, I'd go with collection because then you can get a sense of the author and learn whether you can trust her or not and whether you like her or not. Too many short stories get freaky towards the end. In the case of essays, though, I go either way. I love them all.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
Neither. But that's not really fair because I've never read Lemony Snicket and I've only read the first Harry Potter book. No desire to read more.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
I aim for the chapter break or at the very least, the white space break between paragraphs which show up now and then. Otherwise, if I'm falling asleep and reading the same sentence again and again, I quit then and there.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
Once upon a time, but, hey, I need more than that.

Buy or Borrow?
Both, although I haven't borrowed in a long time, and (looking down in shame) I'm not a good returner of borrowed books.

New or used?
Love 'em both!

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?
I hate reviews and the NYTBR is boring to me. Also, my local newspaper reviews books I'll most likely never have an interest in. I tend not to trust recommendations, either, because most people I know don't read what I read. BUT, having said that, I have found a lot of bloggers who are kindred reading spirits and do go off of their recommendations. Otherwise, I browse and look online, follow the whimsy of one book leading to another, and I do LOVE book lists.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Whichever, depends on the story

Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading?
Anything I can get.

Standalone or series?
Both are great, but I do tend to read way more stand alones.

Favorite series?
Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin; Below the Root trilogy by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
The Day I Became an Autodidact by Kendall Hailey

Favorite books read last year?
The Country Life by Rachel Cusk; A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Favorite books of all time?
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tehanu: Le Guin

The fourth book in Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea "Cycle" is Tehanu. It was shelved in the Juvenile section of the library, but, after reading it, I found that it was quite a departure from the first three books and seemed like it would appeal to a much older audience. For starters, the main characters, who were teenagers in the other three books (well, not Ged, he was maybe in his thirties in the third book), are now in their forties and fifties. They repeatedly comment on what old people they are. Also, there is not nearly the amount of action there is in the first three books and the main character, the wizard and dragonlord, Ged, is an old man with no power anymore. Throughout most of the book he mopes around feeling sorry for himself. And lastly, there are some disturbing elements in it.

And yet, this is hands-down, my absolute favorite book of this series. I loved the humanity of the characters and how they, too, struggle through life and life's changes and life's injustices, even though they are not inhabitants of our world as we know it. I just got off the phone with a friend yesterday who was saying how she really dislikes science fiction and fantasy. She told me how she got through The Lord of the Rings movies but had to watch them during the day so she wouldn't fall asleep and had to have her husband there so she could ask him lots of questions. She said she needs to be able to get involved in the characters and watch their dramas unfold and that's what draws her into the books and movies she likes. I really didn't respond much at the time, but upon thinking about it the rest of the day, what she described is exactly what I like about the fantasy I've been reading. It is about the characters and their dramas, and what makes it even more interesting is that they are still acting human, even though they are not part of our world or reality. It's almost like how I always love to hear stories of ancient people, like Romans, or even medieval people, and how they acted in ways and responded to situations much like we would today in similar situations. They suffered boredom and disappointment, had ambitions and fell in love. Of course, cultures are different and time causes change, but essentially humans are human, good and bad. That seems to be what I'm liking so much about this fantasy series. Humans are human--whether they are kings, wizards, students, or farmwives, whether they live in Earthsea or New Jersey. And I like to see what it would be like for someone to interact with dragons, or be disappointed in a son who grew up to be a rude misogynist, or lose the great powers you've had all your life.

The book explores the phenomenon of getting older and losing the virility one's enjoyed in the younger years, but it really gets into Le Guin's famous feminism. I hadn't really noticed it much in the first three books, except The Tombs of Atuan, but it's pretty heavy-handed in this book and I connected with that, too. I feel like most women who have a baby and decide to stay home suddenly morph into some degree of a feminist. Of course, some may already have been outspoken on matters of gender equality, but there's nothing like being in a situation where suddenly you alone are the main keeper of the "house and hearth" and have to figure out ways to make it equal. I know a lot of working husbands pitch in, but I also know that a lot don't. Anyway, I loved the way Le Guin's feminist ideologies were worked into the book. She explores questions like why the Archmage of all Earthsea could not be a woman, why males sometimes tend not to hear women, condescension and abuse toward women and girls, how a patriarchal society worms its way into many aspects of everyday life (the society of Earthsea is more primitive than ours).

And so, again, I thought this would be the last book in the series that I wanted to read, but now I desperately want the last two. I looked today in the Children's Section and the separate YA section in the library today and thought they didn't carry the last two titles, Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind. But then I came home and searched the library catalog anyway to see if another branch carried them and it turns out my library did have them, but that these last two are shelved in Adult Fiction, sci fi section. If they're going to split them up like that, then I think Tehanu should go with the Adult books, too.

Labels: ,

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Earthsea Books

So. The Books of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. Although there are six, I will venture to guess that these were originally intended to be or evolved into a trilogy. The first three, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore, were published in 1968, 1970, and 1972, respectively. Then the fourth book, Tehanu, came out in 1990. In 2001, Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind both were published.

I see a lot of criticism about Le Guin online, I guess mostly on a few different blogs. My opinion is that most average literary fiction readers do not find her appealing, either in writing style or subject matter. I do think you have to have a little bit of the fantasy nerd within to truly enjoy these books, as I am starting to think I do. I did really enjoy The Lord of the Rings in middle school or whenever I read them and I'm sure there were a few other fantasy and science fiction novels in this vein that I read and liked back then. But for the most part I've stayed away from all "genre" fiction. I'm glad I decided to reread these books.

I know I read the The Wizard of Earthsea sometime in the late eighties at a pretty young age, maybe 11-13. I remember becoming absolutely taken with Ged/Sparrowhawk, the main character. I think it was my first literary crush on a fictional character. Have I had others? Probably Mr. Darcy like everyone else at one time or another. (In high school, I would later develop a literary crush on F. Scott Fitzgerald, but he was real, of course.) But the strange thing is, upon rereading this novel, it wasn't as I'd remembered it. I did remember some things but it seemed like a totally different novel about the same characters and setting. I know it's not really strange to have remembered it differently from that long ago, but I had such concrete memories of things that never happened in the real book! Like I remembered this chant or poem that Ged had to keep repeating throughout his adventure. Nope, didn't happen. And I remembered more to do with true names and the learning of the true names of things in the natural world. Names are a huge part of the book, but not quite as I remembered.

Still, I did really like Wizard, enough to read The Tombs of Atuan next. I'm not sure how far into the trilogy I got as a kid, but I did not remember this book at all. I didn't like it as much as the first one. Probably because Ged wasn't the main character and I disliked the girl who was the main character, Tenar. But now she's back in Book 4 and I like her much better.

I did like the third book, The Farthest Shore but started to think I was getting too steeped in Earthsea and what I now know to be "high fantasy." I'm amused to find that I really like reading about dragons. So I was going to take a break from Earthsea and read something else before the fourth book. I read the first few pages of Z for Zachariah, the YA dystopian novel I've been foaming at the mouth for, and then I read the first few pages of Tehanu. Last night I read the whole first chapter standing in the kitchen at 10:45 pm (standing because I had only intended to thumb through it after the first few pages). Well, I couldn't stop so I'm still in Earthsea.

I do think sometimes Le Guin's writing style is overly descriptive or explanatory, yet descriptive without enough detail. But then again, her descriptions of setting and scenery are very detailed. So what I mean relates to the characters, I guess. I want to get inside Ged's head more, but I feel that I'm held at a distance. She does give us more into the psyches of lesser characters, though, like Tenar, and Arren from the The Farthest Shore. But then again, these inner glimpses always seemed to annoy me because the characters second-guessed or doubted Ged's powers, abilities, knowledge, etc. Wow, I guess I still do have my crush on Ged. Come to think of it, he hasn't shown up yet in the fourth book after the first few chapters and I'm waiting like a fourteen-year-old for him to show up at his locker. (Did you ever memorize the schedule of someone you had a crush on so you'd be able to figure out when he or she would be at their locker so you could just happen to be there yourself?)

So call me a fantasy nerd, but I'm hooked and taking suggestions for other good high fantasy adventures.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 11, 2007

It's Cold Again Today

First of all, I'm washing baby clothes right now. It's really weird to open the washing machine and smell that sweet Dreft smell waft out. Yes, it was only two years ago that Toddler was a newborn, but it seems like a long time.

Library trip yesterday. Storytime. Did we go in to the storytime and sing with the librarian and listen to a story with the other little kids? No.

Did we cry at the top of our lungs while checking out books on the self-service machine? Yes! And, of course, three of the books wouldn't work on the machine so we had to go to the front desk. But by the time we ran to the lobby and put on our coats, Toddler/thirteen-year-old-moody-person-in-disguise was in quite a pleasant state again. Even proclaiming as we got into the car, "It's quite cold!." This could come from too much exposure to English cartoons (Kipper, Charlie and Lola, but they're the best!)

So aside from about twelve new picture books (Bee Bim Bop", a very favorite, was, sadly, checked out) I found four more for myself:

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood--to go along with my dystopian fervor
The Language of Goldfish by Zibby O'Neal--to satisfy my YA fervor
Because of Winn-Dixie--because I have a great curiosity about Kate DiCamillo, also author of The Tale of Despereaux
Z for Zachariah by Robert O'Brien--recommended by Danielle also to help feed the dystopian/post-apocalyptic fervor

Also, I have now finished the first three books of Earthsea but I can't post about them now because Toddler just woke up from his nap.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Gratified: This is the forecast from my local news's website.

A modified arctic air mass will cover the region through Thursday, with highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s. Although certainly nothing unusual for January, the contrast from recent warmth is noticeable. Friday into the weekend will bring much warmer temperatures. Rain will also be possible at times this weekend, followed by more cold air arriving early next week.

It's very chilly and gray right now and I love it.
(Plus, I won't feel bad about not taking Toddler out to play after he wakes up because it might rain soon and then I can continue cleaning the clutter mess we have. The reason for the clutter mess is that we painted the new baby's room, are in the middle of painting the stairs and the upstairs hallway, and will soon paint the upstairs bathroom. So there's paint clutter but also we had to clean out new baby's closet and that is resulting in having to clean out everybody else's closet to make room for the random stuff that was in her closet, i.e., metal detector, ice cream machine, Christmas wrapping stuff, an Easy Bake Oven in the box, boxes of files with old bills and paystubs, piles of Cooking Lights and Martha Stewart Livings and Bon Appetits and Gourmets from my mom when she moved.)

Baffled: Upon returning from food shopping today, the only thing I can't find is my new box of Cream of Wheat. Where is it? I guess that's the one thing they forgot to bag. I really do love my Cream of Wheat.

Addicted: While at said food store, I made an impulse buy and grabbed a box of Keebler Danish Wedding Cookies from one of those displays in the middle of the aisle. The box reminds me of 70s or 80s packaging--it's just a plain pink box with the Keebler tree and a picture of a platter of the cookies. I wasn't going to open them, but I did. And they're not that amazing, but I could not stop eating them. I guess it's the subtle coconut and the fact that, when dipped in coffee, they take on the texture that homemade ones have, and are reminiscent of a macaroon and biscotti offspring. Plus the crack that Keebler probably puts in them. If so, they really should put a warning on the box for pregnant women.

Craving: White Chocolate, brownies, yellow butter cake with mocha icing, Keebler Danish Wedding cookies. I have not eaten any of the above except, of course, the cookies. Well, I have been eating white chocolate in the form of red-and-green-swirled Christmas white chocolate chips from the bag, but that hasn't been since yesterday.

Guilty: I think I just committed a federal offense and the internet is probably not the place to discuss it, BUT... I had these bills that I really wanted to get in the mail today. We bought stamps today (after bringing all the groceries to the car, changing a poop diaper in the tailgate, and then realizing we had to run back in for stamps) and then, after I put Toddler down for his nap, I was happily checking Bloglines when I saw the mail truck come down the street, put my mail in the box, and drive on. So I ran out to the car, got the bills, stamped them, ran across the street to the neighbor's mailbox, put my bills in, and put up their flag. I KNOW one is never to use another's mailbox. I'm sorry USPS. I have been known to stand out there and wait on their curb until the mailman comes back on their side of the street, but it was chilly out and my stomach is bigger than any Santa's I've seen this season. (I know, pregancy is an excuse for nothing. There is a whole blog that went into an in-depth diatribe about how pregnant women should not be given special parking places in parking lots. And while yes, I do agree that pregnancy is certainly natural and not a handicap, you sure are lugging a lot of weight in the front that pulls and tugs at ligaments and muscles you didn't even know you had and walking far distances is not always the most comfortable of activities.)

Industrious: I started my new job with the writer's group I mentioned awhile ago. I just did a tiny task for them so far but we're meeting next week and yay! I'm a little tiny bit of the work force again! With a paycheck!

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Banned Books Meme

I saw this on Cam's blog who saw it here as a meme. Just to see if I'm like Cam and read a lot of these in school or on my own, I'll do it with the meme instructions: bold the ones you've read and italicize the ones you've read part of. (Cam's is beautifully color-coded, but I'll annotate instead since I need to get in bed and read the third Wizard of Earthsea book, The Farthest Shore.)

#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain read on my own, maybe middle school age?
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes read parts of in 8th grade Spanish
#4 The Koran read parts of in college
Arabian Nights
Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain read on my own
#7 Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift in college
#8 The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer read in high school
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne 11th grade English
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman read on own and parts for school
#11 The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli college
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank read on own in 6th grade; borrowed from school library
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker read in college for Gothic literature class
#18 The Autobiography of Ben Franklin by Benjamin Franklin in college; also own and it's a TBR in entirety
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne on my TBR shelf
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck read on own in last few years
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy read on own high school
Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce read in college for Ulysses class
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell read for 6th grade English (too young)
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire on TBR shelf
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee read on own recently
Analects by Confucius
#32 The Dubliners by James Joyce I think we read this in that Ulysses class
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 The Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Das Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley read for summer reading in middle school
Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser read on own in 2006
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell read on own in 6th grade
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 The Lord of the Flies by William Golding read for summer reading in middle school #47 Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys
#48 The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway read in 10th grade English
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury read on own, maybe high school
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 The Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller read in 2006
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 The Color Purple by Alice Walker read parts of from my grandmother's shelf when I was too young
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger read 11th grade English
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison read on own fairly recently
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn read in 12th grade English
East of Eden by John Steinbeck read in 2006 or 2005
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou on TBR shelf
Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson saw TV movie
Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser on TBR shelf
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 A Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath read on own long time ago
The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 The Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl read to my husband on car trip from NJ to VA a few years ago
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov read in last few years
Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut read in last few years
86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder read on own elementary school age
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin read in last few years
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig read to my first grade class when teaching
Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Of some of the titles I haven't read, I have read other books by the same author like D.H. Lawrence, Richard Wright, Theodore Dreiser, William Faulkner, Charles Dickens, and Ernest Hemingway, but I guess those titles haven't been challenged. I am lucky that Banned Books have never affected my life--no teacher or parent has ever said a book was unavailable to me and no library has ever told me that a book was off limits.

Labels: ,

Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday's Feast

I haven't done one of these in a loooong time.

1. Which celebrity (or celebrities) do you think will make headlines this year?
probably Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise; I doubt the media is finished with them yet.

2. Soup
They say good things come in small packages.
What is something little that you think is great?

3. Salad
Name a song that makes you want to dance.
This is sure not to be a popular answer: Get Right by Jennifer Lopez

4. Main Course
What is your favorite font?
Well, I used Comic Sans A LOT when I was a first grade teacher and it's not that. I don't have a lot of fonts on my Word program, but out of those I would choose Book Antiqua or Georgia. But look here for tons of amazingly cool ones. I use this site sometimes when decorating cakes. It helped when I wanted to write the birthday boy's name in lieu of the word "Cars" on that movie's logo.

5. Dessert
If you were to write a do-it-yourself article, what would it be about?
How to decorate a cake


Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Year Winter Was Cancelled

I really should take pictures of my two-inch high daffodils and irises and even a baby crocus shoot coming up, but I just don't feel like it. I could be lazy or eight months pregnant or both. In any case, there have been maybe two or three days this winter in which we needed coats. One I remember was December 10 because that was one of the nights my parents had to put out their neighborhood luminarias. (Their neighborhood bands together and puts out luminaria for three nights of judging in addition to all their beautifully decorated Christmas and Holiday houses. Their street wins every year.) Anyway, everyone loves it and no one is acting like it's any big deal, this weather. But it's freaking me out. I hate it! It's mid-60s just about every day and feels and sounds like April. I keep watching the azaleas for buds. But I put my wooden snowman sign on the front door that says, "We Love Winter" as an act of defiance.

In other news, we went to visit a potential preschool for Toddler today that he probably won't attend in the fall. The reason he probably won't attend is that he is 116 on a waiting list of 116 for the three-year-old room. They take 12 kids for that room. So. We'll probably be trying elsewhere. I have another church in mind, a United Methodist one (the one we checked out today was Baptist), and maybe we'll check out the Jewish Community Center?

All Christmas decorations are down and put away! But instead of shoving everything back into the attic, we did a swap and pulled down. . .an infant bathtub, an infant carseat/carrier and two bases, and Toddler's baby clothes. Most of the baby clothes are to be relocated to my parents' hugeass attic, but some of the infant ones are quite girly so I pulled out half a bin's worth to wash up for Newborn. We didn't know what Toddler's gender would be so he ended up with a lot of yellow duckies, aqua, and light green. Also, we're relocating my wedding dress which is in a big, scary, coffin-like box with a window in it. I had no idea that's what the dry cleaners were going to do when I went to have it cleaned (five years after my wedding). Now it's a scary Beetlejuice thing.

Guess I'll go put on my bathing suit and lay out or something.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Three Dystopias

These are three related books by Lois Lowry that all deal with coming of age in dystopian societies. I'm a generalist when it comes to reading and don't usually go for a specific "type" of book (i.e., genre, certain setting, type of character, etc.), but now I realize that if I were to narrow down a kind of book that I really dig, it's dystopian societies or post-apocalyptic societies--usually the same thing. I really liked Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake when I read it a few years ago and now I want to read The Handmaid's Tale. My penchant for this type of reading has been slowly coming to my attention for a few years now after I noticed my fascination with movies like The Postman and even (I'm embarrassed to say) Waterworld. (I don't even like Kevin Costner!) I'm not saying I liked Waterworld, although I will admit to liking The Postman, it's just that the concept of it fascinated me. It's the mystery of it, the finding of clues to our society that are alien to the protagonists in these stories. They find things like Coke cans and CDs and have no idea what they were for. I like the idea of being excavated. I even love the ending of Planet of the Apes when he sees The Statue of Liberty. Is it so morbid to be fascinated by depictions of the end of the world as we know it? I, of course, never want this happen, and it's a very real and scary thought, especially in this era of terrorism and nuclear weapons. Yet, I'm still fascinated.

The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger tell the story of three different villages near each other, yet still isolated from each other. One is a sterile society where no one is unhappy and no choices need to be made by the citizens. There are no colors, no animals, and no love or pain. There are no memories here of the society that is now. Another village is a loving one that is closest to the better side of society today, caring, celebrations, bustling life, although this one begins to have issues in Messenger. The third society is harsh, rundown, and cruel. In the first and third societies, people with flaws--birthmarks, injuries, disabilities--are cast out or killed. Twins are not allowed in the sterile society. The second society welcomes all of the castaways that make it through the long, hard journey to safety.

You have to read all three books to learn about all three societies. There is some overlap of characters, espcially in Gathering Blue and Messenger. Yet, is this a trilogy? My husband asked me if it was and something made me say "no" at first. But why not? What makes a trilogy a trilogy? Also, any recommendations for more reading or movies along these lines? I'm even considering watching the Mad Max movies. And reading A Canticle for Leibowitz.

Labels: , ,