They Say, I Write It

Youngest: I can’t put these string toys away right now because I’m unstrangling them.
Eldest: When a person gets up and gives a presentation, why isn’t it called a persontation?
Youngest: I love Valentine’s Day. It’s the shariest of all the holidays!
Eldest: Guess who taught me this dance party move at school?
Me: Your teacher?
Eldest: No.
Me: Your principal?
Eldest: No.
Youngest: I know! It was the lunch lady.

(His principal was an actual possibility because, well, let’s just say one time he dressed up as a chicken for a parade, ok?  The answer was music teacher, btw.)


Only a Friendly Note (Losing it Edition)

Dear Good Intentions: Where did you go? This was supposed to be the year of decluttering and more veggies, remember? You’re here somewhere…under the clutter and mac-n-cheese…right?

Dear Elementary School: I know you’re trying to make learning exciting and that you feel compelled to celebrate every blinking holidayesque thing in sight, but could you please stop asking the parents to provide the necessary materials for the never-ending lineup of events? Yes, you are operating on a tight budget but so are we.

Dear Semester: How have you managed to best me already? Normally it takes at least two months before I fall into the Slough of Despair. I am trying to reject your overwhelminess but have been reduced to feeble whimpers, mostly. How much longer until spring break?

Text Books and Their Discontents

What do you do when you are told that the textbook for the course “costs too much”?

Here’s what I did:

1. Apologized that it was expensive.
2. Explained that this is the only existing anthology on the particular subject and that it would have cost more for them buy the texts individually.
3. Suggested that all the texts could probably be obtained via library but it would require some diligent scrambling on their part and quite possibly major interlibrary loan action (plus, there wouldn’t be enough to go around if the whole class did that, plus they wouldn’t include the very useful “introductions” to the texts that I count on them having read).
3. Went home and did online searches to locate what I could online and posted those links to class website (however, they don’t include the very useful “introductions”).

I do understand: felt as student that every book I bought for school cost too much. That’s the textbook racket in a nutshell. But I wouldn’t have said anything to the prof about it. (And it didn’t help that one of the stus said, “Well, I’d expect to pay this much for a science book but not literature.” Ouch.)

Moderate Applause

I don’t have a great deal to add to the wonderful reviews of FeMOMhist, Good (Enough) Woman, and Stacey, but I would like to commend them for their insightful takes on Death Comes to Pemberley, the first book read by our new Virtual Book Club. Definitely agree with the points made in recent discussion with VBC colleagues–primarily that (1) James’s Elizabeth seems far too tame to be, well, the Elizabeth Bennet we know and love, (2) it was sort of a let down that Elizabeth wasn’t more involved in the detection, and (3) there was simply too much monologue-ing.

I also felt that the enormous amount of backstory detracted from the forward momentum of the book. Every time a character is introduced, whether major or minor, we are treated to a long description that, in my humble opinion, slowed down the action to an unbearable degree.

In addition, there were times when I was just plain confused. In one such situation, we’re told how Sister came to be married, then another page or so later, that the grandparents don’t like to visit because of all the children (that was fast!), then another few pages later, we’re treated to a long explanation of why Sister can’t easily visit because of the children (though there seem to be fewer of them now), then we’re suddenly whisked to the nursery to greet Charles and Fitzwilliam (names that, until this moment, had been used only to indicate adult males so I couldn’t figure out at first why they were being held in the nursery with the nanny); however, these are the children of Elizabeth not Sister, then Sister talks about Charles again on the next page but means her husband. And none of this concatenated information really matters in the big scheme of the book but it bogged me down for an unpleasant amount of time.

It was delightful to encounter (an offstage) Mrs. Knightley and Mrs. Martin from Emma, who reportedly provide a sort of deus ex machina for one of the characters. (So like Emma to insert herself into the goings-on, yes? And huzzah to hear about Harriet’s happy marriage and number of children!)

In general, I greatly admire James’s revisiting of Pride and Prejudice, which is no easy feat. Unfortunately, taking that on means that there will be constant comparison, which doesn’t lend itself to an objective experience if one enjoys Austen. I’m glad to have read it, though: the solution to the mystery is interesting (and appropriately relies on the mores of the time). Death Comes to Pemberley is a fascinating book in many ways on its own merit, and there were moments where I just caught my breath and admired the writing (not in comparison with Austen but just as a well-turned phrase or idea).

there ought to be a word for that…

  • The inability to do something despite writing it in your to-do list every day for an entire month.
  • The realization that you just performed an action in a manner exactly like your mother/father used to do.
  • The listing of everyone in your family–including the dog–before landing on the name of the person to whom you are actually speaking.
  • The curious time span between the opening chords of a beloved song you haven’t heard in awhile and the slow recognition of what the song actually is.
  • The irritating thing underneath your foot that you never can identify, despite removing and searching your sock and shoe twenty times.
  • The rushing back of memory just at the instant of triumphant location of an item in a hard-to-find place (where you put it for safekeeping but then forgot where that place was).