A Diet, Mini Vacation and Strident Feminism

You know how life can be humming along splendidly… busily… ok, to be honest here, Frantically, and you suddenly realize you haven’t posted a blog entry in quite a while? Yup, me too.

When I first got into blogging many years ago I had been, for some time, a regular reader of many blogs. Something I found to be true for most every blog was the presence of intermittent periods of silence. You don’t notice it so much, especially if you’re reading ‘back issues’, until you get to that ubiquitous apology post. You know the one I mean. It’s usually titled something like “Long Time Since Posting” or “Re-Entering the Blogosphere.” I hate those things! Certainly, I’m guilty of these kinds of posts as well and when you read the Dummies’ or Idiots’ (or some other word from the self-deprecator’s list of common ways to minimize your own brain) Guide to Blogging you discover the worst, most cardinal of sins you can do when blogging is to not post on a regular basis. I’m wondering if this might be the source of all the bowing and scraping and “mea maxima culpa”s we blogauthors do. Perhaps it is also sprinkled with the tiniest bit of hope that somewhere… out there in the vast and endless chasm that is the INTERNET teeming with up to the minute news on Lindsay Lohan and the Kardashians, wikis on everything you could dream of, porn, questionable news stories that sound like they are from The Onion but aren’t, youtube, literally countless things on which to spend your money via paypal, Amazon (mordor!), tons of things you wish you could unsee and unknow, and lost emails dancing around with all those socks missing in the wash over the years… somewhere out there in all of that soupy mess may be someone who missed our tiny digital life while we didn’t post for a few days. Or decades.

Well, I’m just not going to do it. Not this time. I’m not going to apologize to you, dear reader (if you are indeed out there) because I think most likely it doesn’t matter so much and it is a little bit like callers to the Diane Rhem Show on NPR where every single caller feels compelled to tell Diane how much they love her and religiously listen to her show and how many times they miss the stoplight turning green because they were so wrapped up in her discussion. I imagine she is thinking, as she graciously thanks the two millionth caller for their kind words, “Great, now can we get on with it.”

Yes, Diane, let’s get on with it.

Recently I spent four lovely days in Savanna, GA at a fantastic bed and breakfast. I love Savanah and walked all over its not-yet-too-hot streets. Photos to follow at some point. Also a fantastic spa day as well. No photos to follow of that.

I am on a diet, have lost 7 pounds and feel really good. No fast food in 26 days and I’m confident that alone has reduced my cholesterol by at least 2,000 points. I plan to write more on this and the connection between diet and body image.

Just finished reading (and listening on audio book while running up and down the highway non stop for work stuff) to How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. I love her. Truly. And here’s why:caitlin_moran_5048

1. She makes lists. A lot of them. And I LOVE lists!

2. She’s British and sounds really cool. Not the posh accent that we Americans think automatically makes them smarter than us, like Hugh Grant or the Queen. No, it’s the cooler kind of sound like some rock & roll star and we think, “If I were British, I’d sound like that and I’d be COOL!”

3. She is a feminist. A strident feminist in fact and does a pretty good reflection on feminism.

4. She’s the kind of feminist I feel I could really talk to and possibly disagree with. Frankly, I’d be afraid to disagree with Germaine Greer or bell hooks or those like them because they are smarter than me in some sort of wholly undefinable way that makes me think I have to just take it all and say Thank You. But Caitlin….she’s still clearly smart but, perhaps because she’s from my own generation, I think I’m just fine disagreeing or agreeing with her. I don’t feel that I’d be disrespecting the great matriarchs of feminism if I said, “yeah Caitlin, I just don’t know about all that.” She’d probably take a drag off her cigarette and say, “Well then, crack on with it!”

5. She has messy hair. I have messy hair, too. Not quite in the same way of course, but maybe it’s not the end of the world to have messy hair.

6. There’s more but I’m tired of listing so I’m going to stop now. Because I can. And I have more to say on it all as well but I’m going to stop now for the same reason.

So, that’s the end of what I’ve been doing lately. Not entirely but it’s a fair summation of the highlights.

Oh and by the way, I really am kinda sorry I haven’t posted lately. I’ll work on it 😉

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City of Thieves

After finishing Game of Thrones, I was totally in book-hangover mode. I wanted to read something completely different but it had to be completely good, too. With that in mind, I chose City of Thieves by David Benioff and was not disappointed. And yet, I often wonder if it is worthwhile to write a review of a book that’s been out for a while. City of Thieves has been out since ’08, so I considered skipping a review. However, it is so good, it’s worth it!

It’s fiction but it has a sort of non-fiction feel to it. Memoir-ish, I guess. Set in WWII Russia’s St Petersburg, the story centers around the journey…that is survival…well I guess journey and survival and friendship of two young men. One, Koyla, is a deserter from the Red Army. Or maybe he’s not. Or maybe he is. The other is Lev, the 17 year old son of a Jewish executed poet. It is Lev who gives voice to the story and his not quite grown up and not quite boy perspective, somewhat jaded by the incredibly harsh realities of war and Russian winter, make the story funny in places, unforgettably cold and truly beautiful in others.

The two are given a unique opportunity to escape execution for their crimes (desertion and stealing from a dead German soldier’s body) by procuring a dozen eggs for a locally powerful leader who needs them so his wife can prepare a cake for their daughter’s wedding. There is a stark contrast between a city so starved that people sell ‘library candy’ made from the glue in books and the comparative luxury of a wedding that includes a cake. Cannibals lure in victims, the dead are pretty much everywhere, and the German planes fly above the city, bombing random buildings. Life is remarkably cheap.

And yet, it isn’t at all cheap. It seems to be, at least in Lev’s telling, precious. Despite all the starvation and daily facing potential death from one of a dozen angles, he is still a young man who worries about whether or not he will ever be brave, the fact that his nose is too big and his shyness around women. Amid an overwhelming mass of inhumanity that would dishearten most anyone, the less-than-jovial Lev seems to have not lost his humanity despite the fact that he certainly isn’t an optimist. One of my favorite scenes is an exchange between Lev and another character after one of their traveling companions has been killed by a German soldier.

“Markov’s not important,” she said. “I’m not important. You’re not important. Winning the war, that’s the only important thing.”

“No,” I said, “I disagree. Markov was important. So am I and so are you. That’s why we have to win.”

Lev’s traveling companion and friend is Koyla and, in contrast to Lev, he is nearly always up beat, full of energy and confidence. His bravado both saves them and puts them in harm’s way multiple times and his charm is an excellent counterpoint to Lev’s less sparkling personality. But there is more to Koyla than just comic relief or counterpoint and by the end of the book, I really liked this character even though I started out thinking he was an irritating jerk.

Every so often, there are passages that will stick with you for both the image created in the mind and the sheer beauty of perception. In one scene, Lev and his companions witness the burning of a little town:

“The fire was silent, the little houses collapsing into the flames without complaint, flocks of sparks rising to the sky. At a distance it seemed beautiful, and I thought it was strange that powerful violence is often so pleasing to the eye…”

I really recommend this book strongly. It is well written without a single extra or un-useful word in the entire thing. However, it is punctuated with violence so it is good to go into it knowing this is no light hearted coming-of-age story. After all, it is WWII Russia, so it wasn’t ever going to be a comedy.

David Benioff has also written The 25th Hour and When the Nines Roll Over, neither of which I’ve read but certainly are worth putting on the list!

Forgive the ubiquitous plug for the local bookstore, but I would never have read this book if it hadn’t been suggested by one of the people at the small indie bookstore in town. I’m certain that the most complex formula Amazonianite programmers could come up with would never have considered this book for me. But a real person who knows me did.

 

City of Thieves

Books, BOOKS, BOOKS!

Books are everywhere at my house. Considering that I’m pretty sure a digital reader is an abomination…..mostly because it is….. my book collection is probably never going to stop expanding.  I had a massive summer reading list set up and have read not nearly enough of them and more have been added to the stack!

First, there’s Harry Potter. Final movie came out and that means it’s time to read them. All of them. Yes, I know, you’ve already read them. How do I know, you  may ask? Because that’s what everyone tells me. And yes, I also know that nearly everyone on the planet thinks I should have read them first and then seen the movies. I have a different opinion and I’m going with that.

Then there is the new Sylva library which just opened. We had a library before but I never felt particularly comfortable in there. It always seemed too close and too something or another that made me think it was going to smell bad.  It didn’t but I had the feeling that it did. Anyhow, we have a stunningly beautiful library now. A real feather in the cap of any small town, much less a very small semi-rural town like ours. So, of course that means I have to check out books. It’s all old stuff like C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves, Mere Christianity), etc. But I had to, you see. I had to support the library by checking out books!

Anyhow, in the mean time I’ve added

Room

Room by Emma Donoghue and

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

to the pile. They’re for two bookclubs. And the choir director at the church published her autobiography so I’ve added that. Oh, and there’s also a book or two to go along with my possible DMin that I’m contemplating. I can only hope that my former Ethics professor’s next book does not come out any time in the next six months.

I did decide I should give away some books and gathered the ones I am willing to part with together in a box. I think there are about four.  Four books, not four boxes.

It’s an addiction. Hello, my name is Rosemary and I’m a Biblioaddict.

 

Christmas Gifts and Books I’m Reading Now

I always think that one of the best things to get for Christmas is a book. And this year I was lucky and got two!  The first one was from my mom and, according to her, I asked for this book.  I don’t remember asking for it but I am sure glad I got it!  I’m a big fan of Tony Blair and I am really looking forward to reading this autobiography.
  
 

 Then, from some of my friends, I got this bible. Now, it is kind of a joke amongst pastors that people give bibles as gifts to people who are professional religious. Gee, just what every pastor needs…a bible…because I certainly didn’t have one already.  However, in this case, this is a very unique bible. It is a graphic novel. It does not attempt to cover every last word of scripture, but it does hit the highlights.  I’ve only had a chance to flip through it but it is pretty good so far.  Great idea! 
 

The Action Bible: God’s Redemptive Story

 

Aside from these two gifts, I’ve got two others on my reading stack now.  Tea Rose is the first one.  This is not a novel I would typically select.  While it is similar in era to many of the steampunk style fiction I love, it is anything but steampunk in all other ways.  However, it is for my book club and it is always good to read things one might not normally pick up. Meeting is coming up fast and I’ve barely started it….

The Tea Rose

 

And Kraken is the other.  I’ve had this one since the summer and I’ve been really looking forward to it.  It’s in the leftover from summer pile which, unfortunately, still has a few things in it. This is also a writer I’m very curious about. China Mieville. Looking forward to this one and now that Christmas is over, perhaps I’ll be able to get to all of these without much delay!

Kraken

 

 

A Journey: My Political Life