Monthly Archives: March 2013

ISBN 0-385-49081-X

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale

I had to eat two pints of ice cream and several chocolate bars to get though this book. That means I needed to flood my brain with serotonin to cope with the portrait of inequality Margaret Atwood created in The Handmaid’s Tale.

This is what happened for me this week:

1.) I watched Kakenya Ntaiya: A girl who demanded school  on ted.com.

2.) Gay marriage + Prop 8 + Supreme Court flooded my Facebook.

3.) I remembered my father’s stories, an echo from the past, of race riots at Kennedy High School. Martin Luther King was shot at age 39.

4.) I looked up when women earned the right to vote: Amendment 19, ratified in August 1920.

5.) I saw a pile of baby shoes at an Antique store. It reminded me of Auschwitz.

6.) I thought that if this book were from the point of view of Moira I would physically throw up.

7.) I went swimming. I went to yoga. I read the covers of glossy magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store (Go For It). I watched TV. I existed.

I lie in bed, still trembling. You can wet the rim of a glass and run your finger around the rim and it will make a sound. This is what I feel like: this sound of glass. I feel like the word shatter.   

This is how I feel when I read my banal list of the week’s events. Like shatter because even though we know about the mistakes of the past, somehow, we keep falling back into them.

What does any of that have to do with The Handmaid’s Tale?

Sometimes I read books to better understand the world in which I live. Sometimes I read books to escape the world in which I live. I have an unbelievable amount of privilege being white, middle class, educated, and American. Day to day, I tend to forget this. That is dangerous. I think it’s as dangerous as being close-minded. Power can easily be transferred. A single generation of people who don’t remember those who fought for their privilege and freedoms will lead to an oppressed generation.

How is a handmaid anything like a gay couple wanting the right to marry? Someday both will be fiction, because on that day America will understand that defining a person by their sexuality (or limiting their rights) is as ridiculous as defining them by their gender or race. On that day everyone will be allowed the right to marry.

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ISBN 978-1-877741-09-8

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

You, the prism, measure the light of the world; it burns through your mind to throw a different spectroscopic reading onto white paper than anyone else anywhere can throw. Let the world burn through you. 

And here I was just letting the world burn me*.

 

*If you were looking for a longer post this week, sorry. I’m working on a story I’d like to finish before Friday.

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ISBN-13: 978-0-671-02734-6

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

 

When I’m feeling nostalgic for payphones I rent a movie, but that only makes things worse because I can’t go to a real video store anymore. The title up for discussion this week is The Perks Of Being AWallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

I read the book and rented the movie because I wanted to compare them. The book was better, but I think it’s okay for me to say that because according to Wikipedia, SC wrote the screenplay and directed the movie.

The movie was good, but I marked just about every page in the book. The narrator, Charlie, stands out so much more as a character in the book. He feels so much more human. For example Charlie states: I turned around and walked to my room and closed my door and put my head under my pillow and let the quiet put things where they are supposed to be. A movie can show Charlie going to his room and putting his head under the pillow, but it could never show how he let the quiet put things where they were supposed to be.

The reason the book found me was this passage:

This one time when it’s peaceful outside, and you’re seeing things move, and you don’t want to, and everyone is asleep. And all the books you’ve read have been read by other people. And all the songs you’ve loved have been heard by other people. And the girl that’s pretty to you is pretty to other people. And you know that if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would be describing “unity.”   

Earlier in the week, a friend asked me what were the gifts of having bipolar disorder. My reply was that I saw amazing connections in the world. Before reading this passage, I had never thought about it in terms of “unity.” Now that I’ve read that, this word is the only way I can see things. United.

It’s worth it to check out the book, the movie, or both for the song references alone. And if you happen to be a Harry Potter fan there are a few good jokes/references in the movie.

Unity. It’s like a coincidence only better.

I also ought to mention that I have another story published at Fiction Depot. You can check it out here.  The site features a bunch of local talented writers.

Now I’m going to find a payphone because I heard that the last few remaining are time warps.

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ISBN: 978-0-14-243723-0 (Part III)

Don Quixote by Cervantes

Don Quixote by Cervantes

This week I read the next 250 pages of Don Quixote. That puts me on page 750. I marked a lot of places in the book that I wanted to talk about, but I’ve been a distracted reader lately.

Instead, I’d like to discuss depression for a bit. Sorry to readers who wanted to hear more of DQ’s adventures.

I felt a lot like Sir Knight of the Sorry Face this week. I know I’m in trouble when I reach for my sweater of sadness* and the Sarah McLachlan CD. It gets even worse when country songs start making sense. It’s like somebody please stop me—this hurts so good.

Jokes aside, I realized that depression causes me to see things in the world that I would ordinarily take as a happy sign or coincidence to a dark place.

An example: I went to Birchwood Café for brunch with a friend and I saw that a woman had a tattoo on her foot that read: NO PLACE LIKE HOME. Ordinarily, this would be sweet, as it would remind me of my cousin who also has a tattoo in that same spot on her foot, but it made me unbelievably homesick. I hadn’t realized how much I missed my friends and family and how bad I wanted them near. Depression is a spiral of thinking like that. Were I in a better mood I would see the tattoo and think, Minneapolis is my home, or at least it’s trying to be. After I ate my quiche and talked to my friend, I felt much better. Who knew kale could be so good?

But the grumps just would not go away. Later Husband took me out for dinner at Greek Grill and Fry **  We got to pick a drink from the cooler to go with our meal, and I just blurted out—

This is what’s wrong with America!

Here are all these choices when technically all we need is water. Husband was like, hey now. And I know I was moving into communist territory, but I couldn’t help it. I just saw how we have all these different choices, easily over fifty different beverages to choose from and instead of being like, wow, that’s cool, America is awesome because we have choices and I’m privileged enough to get to pick any one of these drinks—my depressive thinking was that we spend way too much time on things that ultimately don’t matter. We waste time choosing, creating, and marketing different drinks, when there are other major problems with the world that could use a bit of our attention. It made me think of this song: Livin’ On The Edge .

I was such a sorry sap that I had a hard time enjoying a nice game of bowling.***

I guess I’d like to say that depression is real, and people who suffer from it have to recognize their thought pattern and try to redirect what they’re thinking. No spirals of shame. Be with the thought and let it pass. Get up and get exercising. That’s totally counterintuitive to what happens when one is depressed, the brain is telling you to stay in bed, to give in to the sadness. It’s a fight that happens one day at a time, one moment at a time.

And for those who want to hear more of DQ here’s a quote:

May God send a remedy; for everything in this world is trickery, stage machinery, every part of it working against every other part. I have done all I can.

Be with that thought and then let it go. Otherwise, you won’t enjoy the beauty of life, part of which is bowling.

 

 

 

*An oversized blackish sweater that would actually pair well with skinny jeans.

**Maybe the shadiest of shady places to eat, but they have the best gyros in this part of town.

***I never saw it as much of a sport until I realized I couldn’t knock down any pins. I think I scored a 40. It became more fun to see how fast I could whip my ball down the lane rather than knock down pins.

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