Sunday, October 31, 2010

"To me, the point of a novel is to take you to a still place..."

"...You can multitask with a lot of things, but you can't really multitask reading a book. You're either reading a book or you're not. To me, the world of books is the quiet alternative, an even more desperately needed alternative."

~ Jonathan Franzen, via The Atlantic

I had actually written that quote--by hand!--when I first came across it a couple months ago. And it seems even more appropriate now that I've finished his latest novel, "Freedom." It took me about a week to finish the 500-page book, and I was reading during any and all free moments; it was a true gift to enter the "still place" of its world.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quick hits

This weekend I went on a quick trip to Chicago. I've been to the city probably four times, now, but never for more than three consecutive days, and thus have never gotten to do everything (and see everyone) I've wanted to! Probably my favorite part was the Architectural Boat Tour; we went up and down the Chicago River while learning about the different buildings. I don't think I'll look at a city skyline the same way again (thanks, Kristi, for the recommendation!) The other bright spot? Seeing Rahm Emmanuel in a little breakfast joint, and also being seated near a couple of old guys ranting about the tea party and the intellectual dishonesty of today's Republican Party.

Now I'm back home, trying to prepare a four-minute piece for writing class tomorrow. I'm tempted to recycle an old blog entry, but methinks that defeats the purpose.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Here and There

I left my laptop at work yesterday. This meant, when I got home from writing class Wednesday night, I couldn't watch Tuesday's episode of "Glee" on Hulu. Otherwise, I wasn't too disconnected.

This morning, I stepped out of my house with the intention of driving to work and picking up my computer, but it was so beautiful out; instead I just kept walking, all the way to work (the benefit of living less than two miles away from your job!) Then I took my laptop across the street to a coffee shop and sat and wrote and revised for the next hour. Now I'm back home, contemplating the leftover pizza in my refrigerator.

Today is the first day off I've had in a while. This is good, because days when I work are days I make money. But it's nice enjoying the weather and solitude for a bit.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How Far We've Come

Yesterday, the twelve-year anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death, was a reminder of how far we've come and how far we have to go.

My mom still tells the story. I was seven or eight years old. I cut off all the blond hair of my Barbie. I showed it to her and said, "Look, mom - my Barbie's a lesbian!" And I married her off to the brunette, with long and luxurious hair. Surely, I wasn't taking a political stance; I didn't have any Ken dolls because their hair was hard and plastic. Still -- in my sphere of knowledge were men marrying women, men divorcing women, and women partnering with women. All three were viable options.

A few years later, when I was an adolescent who showed absolutely no interest in boys, my mom said to me, "You know it's ok if you don't like boys. I just want you to be happy." It turns out that I was just a late bloomer (intellectually I'm on par; socially, I've always felt 5-10 years behind!) Still, I've always known since a very young age from BOTH my parents that I will be accepted no matter what. No matter who I am, no matter who I love, I will always be loved.

Monday was National Coming Out Day. I wish that every child--gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or straight--could have parents as well as a society that accept them for who they are and whom they love. In the mean time, adults are recording youtube videos for high school students who may be struggling in their current family/community situation with the simple but powerful message, "It gets better."

Edited to correct the date of Matthew Shepard's death.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Don't Want to Talk About It

Sometimes Nana and I would talk about religion. Her faith, she said, is God's greatest gift to her. I mostly listened. I enjoyed hearing about her experience visiting my parents' church, full of young people worshiping, singing, and even speaking in tongue. I mostly listened. I nodded. I said, "Oh?"

But I didn't like talking about my own beliefs. I'd rather her assume the best in me (as I know she'd never assume the worst). When she started challenging me directly about those beliefs--and "challenging" is too strong a word, but it's how I felt--instead of standing up for them, engaging in a debate, I started to say, "I don't want to talk about it." I was rather snippy and left no room for argument.

I've used this line a few times with her, regarding religion, politics, and other "controversial" subjects: "I don't want to talk about this." I've used it with others, as well, from my mom to friends: I shut down conversations because I'm uncomfortable. In my mind, I'm protecting people I care about. I don't think they want to hear what I have to say, so I don't say it. I'd rather withhold than lie or create an awkward situation.

This can't be healthy. In fact, it drives my grandmother crazy; she said she's even spoken to my dad about this! This habit of mine--withholding to "protect"--may have cost me a friendship.

Now that I'm aware of this, maybe I can do better. Back to the Reds' game. As for the Bengals, I don't want to talk about it.

Forest for the Trees.

Me, hugging a really big tree.

I enjoy getting lost just for the feeling of eventually finding my way.

Yesterday after work, a couple of us hiked around an area park, venturing past a "path closed until October 10" sign. I had some vague memory of nearby train tracks, and I wanted to find them. So we kept walking even as I became less and less sure we were heading in the right direction. By the time I realized I had no idea where we were, the sky was cornflower blue, and the woods were dark. But it seemed best to keep walking.

An hour later, the sky navy, we emerged at the other end of the park feeling exhilarated that we hadn't been eaten by squirrels.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


A dearth of posts, lately, for a variety of reasons.

On the specific side, first of all, I'm trying to clean and organize. With my reduced income, I can only stay in my (wonderfully awesome) apartment for so much longer. When the time comes to move, I need to be ready. Secondly, there's a new boyfriend (I hate that term; I usually only refer to someone as that after we've broken up and it follows "ex-") who has normal working hours and doesn't live far away... Those evenings when I would have been perusing articles about the midterm elections, we're out eating Thai food. When I might have been pondering the beginning of the universe and my place in that universe, we're seeing a movie (by the way, I really recommend "The Social Network").

More abstractly, I've felt quite scattered, my attention in a dozen different directions. What kind of writer do I want to be? How, exactly, am I going to make it a part of my life? It's the same questions I've been asking for the past three years. Really, I think it's plain old Doubt. Nagging me. That stupid Ego convinced me to leave a well-paying job during a recession? Who does it think I am?!

I wish the writing group met three times a week instead of once. It's centering and affirming. Luckily, we meet again tomorrow.