Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wise old mountain moon...

...shining through the tree branches. 

Moments of perfection dot the hours of everything else.

Hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nature's bounty

I'd be quite happy to come back as a four-legged mountain dweller...

(I think that's the mom.  Or possibly our neighborhood fox, Klaus.)

I don't know what all these photos have to do with writing specifically, but there's something about these mountains and the glorious creatures contained within them that brings out that little nipping creature in my brain who taps against my skull and whispers, "You ought to write a little something, don't you think?"

And I especially enjoy the concept that "no studies have been done to determine what to do" if you encounter a mountain lion.  C'est la vie.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gas station, mountain home, not a thing to call my own...

Back again!  I don't know if you lovely readers are thinking, yay! or crap, I thought this blog was done! 

We are in Colorado for the summer so that cute husband can be an intern for a few months.  He is working his tush off and I'm...blogging...

We drove all the way from Virginia, through West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and my sci-fi looking home state of Kansas.

I do think the windmills are amazing though--bring on clean energy!

And so here we are.  Funny how you can say that phrase after a long journey to a place you want to be.  Or when you wake up in the morning.  Or looking in the mirror, wondering what to do next.

The good news is, it's beautiful here, as always.  And, as always, everywhere you look someone is running up a mountain really fast.  Me, I like to just sit and read and watch the mountains.  I feel that they speak to me in some spiritual sense--I just don't understand how they can be so beautiful, so all-encompassing.

And the best part...we had snow this morning.  For a snow-lover like me, it was like waking up in heaven, though I hear the Colorado folk are sick to death of the stuff.

See the white space between the trees?  There's actually mountains there.

So I put on my slippers...
 and chose some books...
 (I don't think I brought enough to choose from.)
...and later we got this...

It's a hard knock life.

In truth the serenity of this magical place does not quite match our mood.  We are trying to figure things out for the summer and for the rest of our lives.  But it's a godsend to wake up to this each morning.  It's like a spoonful of instant peace and calm to replenish our dwindling stores.  

So here we are.

*Post title is lyrics from "Penny to My Name," and Eva Cassidy does a soul-stirring version of it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Crime & Punishment or, law school

I hadn't planned on blogging this evening.  I got home late and was doing good just to be sitting in front of my computer spooning my Trader Joe's Chana Masala into my mouth while surfing the net.  Cute husband is in finals so dinner together is, basically, out of the question.  Law students in finals are fascinating, someone has got to do a study.  They sit in one place for hours at a time in a state of complete and total concentration.  When they do finally get up--either to eat or go to the bathroom--they remain in a kind of airtight bubble out of which NOTHING can pull them.  I will simply say, "How's it going?  Feel like you're making progress?"  And I get this haunted stare, like, WHO ARE YOU, why have you entered my extremely private thought cave?  Furthermore, he is so in the swing of torturing himself so that he can do well, that any offers of kindness are rebuked as scathing critiques of his ascetic way of life.  "Need anything?" I say in my sing-song sweetest-wife-ever voice, as I do his dinner dishes.  He does not look up from his papers.  "All I truly need is to study."


So I guess I decided to blog tonight because, well, I'm kind of lonely.

During my sad and pathetic dinner/web surf, I found this link and I had to share it.  Once again it was found via Blog of a Bookslut.  Apparently, there is, truly, now a video game of Dante's Inferno.  So someone by the name of Robert Brenner decided to write a what-if of a Crime & Punishment video game.


CHARACTER: You’re Raskolnikov, a student radical in St. Petersburg. Somebody’s stolen your birthright. Somebody’s gonna pay.

MISSION: Fight your way through a nightmarish philosophical struggle that anticipates the rise of Communism. Smash the capitalist class. Raise the consciousness of the lumpenproletariat. Redistribute the wealth—to yourself.

WEAPONS:  Marxist dialectics, Napoleonic complex, an axe. You can upgrade your axe to a chainsaw.

CHEAT CODE: Ctrl-P unlocks Sofia’s panties.

It cracks me up...

But it got me thinking about reading Crime & Punishment in Mrs. Jenkins' 12th grade English class.  (Lauren was by my side for this traumatic experience, hope she reads this so she can tell me if I'm remembering everything correctly.)  Mrs. Jenkins spent weeks telling us how much we were going to love Crime & Punishment--it was going to change our lives, make us better people, turn us into geniuses in just under 500 pages.  On the day the books arrived we were all chomping at the bit with our $5 cash, thinking, I've got to get my hands on this thing!

That night I sat in my bed struggling, fighting against the meager 30 pages she'd assigned us.  It was the first time in my whole life when I was truly just reading words; they meant nothing to me.  Night after night I kept forcing myself, promising myself I would get to the bitter end, I had to see the bright light I knew must be at the end of this tunnel.  But alas it was an oncoming train--of nothingness.  To this day, I hate that novel.  I have met many people who loved it.  I even married one of them.

A professor in college said that reading is just the reader trying to connect with the writer any way that he can--searching for any commonality that will put them both on the same ground so that he (the reader) can feel like he's in good hands, like he's listening to someone who knows something about him, and the two of them can move forward together.  Dostoevsky and I just weren't meant to be.  Mrs. Jenkins loved that novel so much.  She just couldn't get over its power.  I do that with books too--I push them on people, say, it's so amazing, it will change your life, you'll never forget it!  But in the end reading is just for two.  And what happens between reader and writer no one can ever really know.

But it wasn't all for naught.  Tonight when I ran across Crime & Punishment: the video game, it was nice to get the jokes.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday's thoughts

When asked to list my favorite authors, Margaret Atwood is always one of the first to come to mind.  In truth, I've only ever read two of her books (Cat's Eye & The Blind Assassin), and feel quite ashamed that I haven't gotten through this one, which is the one everyone loves, the one that's taught in the schools.  Reading her books is work--but the good kind.  She rewards her reader, and manages to weave together (with no seam showing) great storytelling, philosophy, and a strong social consciousness.  That is to say, you can't read one of her books and not feel smarter and better off upon finishing.

Today she has a piece up on Daily Beast called "Why We Must Defend Writers".  <---(In this case, the period goes outside the quotations because it's a preexisting quotation.  Argh now I'm confusing myself.)

Anyway, here's my favorite part:
For writers can’t retire, nor can they be fired: As we hear constantly from those who think there should be no arts grants, writers don’t have real jobs. That’s true, in a way: They have no employers. Or rather their employers are their readers: which imposes on them a truly Kafkaesque burden of responsibility and even guilt, for how can you tell whether you’re coming up to the standards of people you don’t even know? Publishing a book is like stuffing a note into a bottle and hurling it into the sea. Some bottles drown, some come safe to land, where the notes are read and then possibly cherished, or else misinterpreted, or else understood all too well by those who hate the message. You never know who your readers might be.
But the whole thing (only two pages) is worth a read, if you are so inclined.  I actually think this article dovetails well with thoughts on The Book Thief.  And in general, with our ongoing discussion of why stories matter, and as an extension of that, why stories have power.

Hope you are enjoying the weekend, preferably with a good book at your fingertips and loved ones in close proximity.  I'm back in Williamsburg, so of course we're in full sweltering-heat swing, with temps in the 90s and slated to stay that way.  The swimming pool down the street is completely packed with screaming children, and there are men outside in sleeveless shirts barbecuing meat. 

So I'm pretending it's still Novemeber and staying inside and baking.  I made muffins.

See you soon.
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