woman who reads too much

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July 18th, 2014

11:24 pm: abusive family dynamics
When I was little, maybe five or six, I knew that a cheetah was an ape. I also knew that a cheetah was a spotted cat, the fastest land animal. For a long time, both facts existed without collision, because one of them was true at home, and the other was true at school. Eventually I noticed the contradiction and figured out that the incorrect fact came from the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies.

I tried to tell my dad, who was the one who liked the Tarzan movies. (My dad is not a native speaker of English, but I didn't realize that that was relevant. I knew his first language was Spanish, but I didn't really understand that. I remember not being able to understand why he hadn't been teased about his name, which was Joaquín.
"Didn't kids call you Joaquín Walking Down The Street?"
"No, because where I grew up, that would have been said, 'Joaquín, caminando por la calle'. It isn't funny."
Did not compute.)

Anyway, I tried to tell him that a cheetah was a cat, and he said no, a cheetah was a monkey, and I said I used to think that, because Tarzan called his friend Cheetah, but "Cheetah" was just Cheetah's name. The kind of animal he was was a chimpanzee. And my dad said no, a chimpanzee was a different kind of monkey, bigger than a cheetah, almost as big as a man. And I went away and thought. How did I know that a cheetah was a cat, given that some people said one thing and some said the other? Books! I realized. All the books said that a cheetah was a cat. So I got Volume C of the World Book Encyclopedia and brought it to my dad. He looked at it, and-- and this was not all that many minutes after our first conversation-- and said, "You see, I was right, a cheetah is a cat."
"No, daddy, I said a cheetah was a cat. You said a cheetah was a monkey."
"No, you thought a cheetah was a monkey. You said you learned that from the Tarzan movies."
I argued, he yelled at me for being arrogant, for always needing to be right. I ran away crying. He yelled after me that I was crying because I couldn't stand being wrong.

My mother said that what really happened didn't matter: what mattered was that I should have known better than to correct him. Ever. And even if I was sure that I was thinking that a cheetah was a cat when I went to get the book, I couldn't be sure that I hadn't said it the wrong way around. And if I was so smart, why couldn't I learn not to say things to Dad that made him angry?

Well, my dad was always a little bit angry (except when he was very angry) and I was always a little bit afraid (except et cetera), but I have always been stupid about feelings and I never did learn how to avoid setting him off.

I was reminded of this by amaebi's observations on conversational rules of correction. Rules are helpful. Rules I can learn.

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July 17th, 2014

08:55 pm: sometimes i lives in the country
This is the view from the house where I used to live with my husband.
double rainbow
There's a panorama of the whole double rainbow here:
http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/boxofdelights/833604/50441/50441_1000.jpg

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July 16th, 2014

08:15 pm: wednesday reading
• What are you reading?

This I Believe: the personal philosophies of remarkable men and women. For book group. Mostly, they are nice. The only one that has given me to think is William F. Buckley, who says,
I've always liked the exchange featuring the excited young Darwinian at the end of the nineteenth century. He said grandly to the elderly scholar, "How is it possible to believe in God?" The imperishable answer was, "I find it easier to believe in God than to believe that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop." That rhetorical bullet has everything -- wit and profundity.

Come on. Yes, if atheism means that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop, then atheism is nonsense. But atheism does not mean that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop. Here's what I believe, Mr. Buckley: you should not argue against someone else's position unless you know what it is. And if you cannot say what it is in a statement that your opponent agrees is true, you do not know what it is.

• What did you recently finish reading?

And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini

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There are a lot of twos in this book: Two disfigured little girls. Two highly privileged young men who have a brief but intense connection to someone whose desperate state inspires a mercifully fleeting desire to become a better person. Two people who spend decades with the object of their unrequited, unspoken love. I think this must be some literary technique at work, reflecting or reinforcing the main pairing: two women named Pari, one of whom used to imagine the other was her invisible identical twin.

There are sibling or sibling-like relationships in all the stories in this book. The ones between people who are actually present in each other's lives are strong but unsatisfying, as real relationships tend to be. The ones that are broken or only imagined are far more compelling than reality.

If I weren't reading it for book group, I wouldn't have gotten very far with its mood of longing for a different, better world combined with the futility of making any changes in this one.

No Man's Nightingale, by Ruth Rendell. Satisfactory. Inspector Wexford is old, and he investigates things as an old man would. He putters around. He is reminded of things. He thinks about the way things used to be. He forgets things. He remembers them again. Not very exciting, but I enjoy it. It confused me that two of the main suspects (and one minor character) were men with the initials D.C. I know real life is confusing that way, but fiction doesn't have to be.

The House on Fortune Street, by Margot Livesey.

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This book is preoccupied with the question: When is love wrong?

Interesting. Well-written. Very sad.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Maybe Three Parts Dead, for SF bookgroup.

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July 9th, 2014

04:38 pm: pricking out
I had some space, and some leftover seed, so I seeded a fall crop of basil and two kinds of kale. The seed were two or more years old, so I seeded thickly. Now I have many kale seedlings and many many basil seedlings, waytooclosetogether. I should just thin them, but-- Think of what I could do with all that basil!

I could try to separate them and grow them all on. I could find more space. Pricking out seedlings is going to be a lot harder stooping over a bed than standing at a counter, and a lot lot harder when you're pulling the seedlings out of clayey soil instead of lovely loose seed starter, but-- I could at least try.

This is going to hurt.

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July 7th, 2014

07:47 pm: what lesson should I take?
The Creative Process spread is designed specifically to peer into the nature of a project or creative undertaking, and shine a spotlight on the evolution of its parts.

The card in the middle represents the creative force behind the project, be it a person, organization, or other entity. Queen of Swords: The essence of air behaving as water, such as a refreshing mist: A person gifted with both keen logic and natural intuition, giving them uncanny powers of perception and insight. One who easily sees past deception and confusion to the heart of a matter, and understands both sides of any argument. The embodiment of calm, forthrightness, and wit, in the face of even the most trying circumstances.

The card on the top represents imagination - the prophetic image that stems from the creative force of the previous card to initiate the project. This is the poetry or voice of the undertaking. Wheel of Fortune, when reversed: An unexpected turn of bad luck. A broken sequence of events. Outside influences for the worse. An inescapable descent due to Fate or Karma. Great changes taking place as a result of earlier actions that cannot be taken back. Misfortune, failure and reluctance to use free will.

The card on the left represents emotion - the feelings aroused by or surrounding the ideation of the project that takes place in the previous card. This is the music or scent of the undertaking. Page of Wands: The essence of fire behaving as earth, such as wood or coal: The surprising appearance of a new passion. An adventurer who blazes through life, acting as a catalyst that others may harness. The intense enthusiasm and childlike imagination that fuels any new venture, needing only the application of mind and material to make it a success. Inner fire that can drive away fear and replace it with fury. Can represent a person of some timidity, but whose innate passion can be easily ignited. May indicate the birth of a child.

The card on the bottom represents thought - the analytical process of organizing the project and capturing the emotional content of the previous card. This is the science or vision of the undertaking. The Devil, when reversed: Resistance of temptation. Freedom from bondage. The pursuit of higher goals despite the influence of luxury and pleasure. Release from obsession with money and power. Liberation from fear, weakness and indecision through communion with higher powers or the inner voice.

The card on the right represents manifestation - the real work involved in completing the project, and the form it will take upon culmination. This is the painting or touch of the undertaking. Two of Cups (Love): The perfect harmony of union, in romance, friendship, or business. A deep and palpable connection radiating joy and contentment. A great concordance or pledge of fidelity. The joining of male and female interpreted in the broadest sense. The sanctification of the natural through that which exists on a higher plane. May indicate the meeting of a kindred soul, marriage, engagement, merger, or partnership.

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