Chabon & Childhood


Michael Chabon keeps popping up in my feeds. First it was random mentions on Twitter (I didn’t pay much attention to those). Then it was the much-lauded essay about attending Paris Fashion Week with his son, Abe. I eventually read and loved the piece, but didn’t do any further research. Today it was a Buzzfeed piece by Doree Shafrir. I read it in fascination, slowly falling in love with this funny, thoughtful, geeky author.

Each time I saw his name, a memory niggled. I can very clearly see a thick, brightly-colored book on the shelf in my local library. My memory thinks that it is called Summerland. My memory also thinks that Michael Chabon wrote it. But each time that I read about him, I am less sure. There’s no mention of this book in the Twitter posts, the essay, the profile. The more I know—about his literary connections, about his current work—the less he seems like a man who would have written the middle grade book, which, if my memory serves me correctly, was about baseball. I start to wonder if I’m remembering the wrong author’s name. At one point, I even think I might be confusing the title with Ally Condie’s haunting middle-grade, Summerlost.

Finally, I resort to Wikipedia to confirm my very specific but now doubtful memory. The world’s free encyclopedia confirms that I’m right: Michael Chabon is the author of Summerland. It’s about a magical quest and baseball plays a big role.

I click through the references to see what reviewers of the time thought about Summerland. They’re not complimentary.

And these discoveries, while they reassure me that my memory for books is exactly as good as I expect it to be, trouble me. Figuring out why requires a bit of a journey. Continue reading

A Plea to Recognize Ageism


I’d barely gotten seated at the doctors’ office when the receptionist asked, “How old are you?” I smiled and told her I was 22. As expected, she immediately laughed and told me that I looked like I was 15 or 16. I explained that I get that a lot.

5 minutes later, the nurse asked about my emergency contact. I gave his name and number. Then she asked, “Is that your father?” No, it’s my husband.

This kind of thing happens to me a lot. I look young, apparently.

Oh, you’ll be thankful for it when you’re my age! You’ll be grateful for that someday! Continue reading

Quotes from my Notes #12


[Since I haven’t done this in awhile, a quick explanation. I collect quotes from a variety of places, but don’t have a good way of sharing or processing them. This series is my way of sharing what inspires and challenges me with others.]

It’s easy to pretend that the dominant narrative is insightful, based in reality and in sync with what we wish it was. Denying it doesn’t make it go away, though.

We can’t easily change the dominant narrative that people have about us, we certainly can’t do it by insisting that our customers or colleagues bring more nuance to the table.

Instead, we can do it through action. Vivid, memorable interactions are what people remember. Surprises and vivid action matter far more than we imagine, and we regularly underinvest in them.

–Seth Godin

Why Read Children’s Lit? or Why “Palace of Stone” is Written for College Students


Also, long titles have a long and glorious history, so don’t judge.

Seriously though, why read children’s literature? Why does a college student check books out of the children’s section of her local library? Continue reading

Romance vs. Reality: Facebook


Do you ever wish you could give people a reality check? Really high on my list of said people would be Facebook couples. You know the ones I’m talking about. So, things I would tell them, if I could.

1. Literally no one cares about the 67 billion nearly identical and/or “cool” couple photos you post. Except maybe your mother/grandmother.

2. Nobody wants to read daily mushy statuses. We get it. You’re “happy”. You have a girlfriend/boyfriend. Now please shut up and stop telling us.

3. Private messages. Text messages. Email. Phone calls. There are a million other ways to tell them any of those things you posted on your significant other’s wall. Ways that will not trigger my vomit reflex.

4. Speaking of posts on walls – if you insist on posting about your separation anxiety (for the 50 minutes your bf/gf is in class), I will judge you. Not sorry.

5. If you insist on posting about your separation anxiety over the summer, I will laugh scornfully at your pain and refer you to my friends whose spouses are on duty overseas.

There it is. 5 things I would tell Facebook couples if I could. In case you’re wondering, this is not single bitterness either – I am happy in a relationship and I choose not to sicken my Facebook friends with it. And yes, I realize that I can hide/unfriend them and I do take those steps. But don’t you ever just want to tell people how it is???

/End rant. What do you guys think about relationships and social media? I barely scratched the surface here!

Home is Where the Heart Is


You know that saying about having the “best of both worlds”? I’m feeling it…in reverse. I don’t know where my home is anymore. Whether I’m at school or at “home”, I miss the other one. At “home”, I’m surrounded by strangers who have known me my whole life. At school, I’m just surrounded by strangers. At “home”, everything is comfortable, familiar. But I built habits and memories at school too. I miss my church there. I miss early morning walks. I miss working out with my best friend. But when I’m at school, I miss my little sister. I miss walking my dog. I miss the guy I love.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it will probably be this way for all of my college career. It is a strange waiting period – my parents’ home is no longer fully mine, but neither can I start building a home yet. I used to think that I wanted adventure, I wanted to go places. Nowadays, what I really want is a home – somewhere I feel is always mine, with someone who loves me. I used to think that I wanted a career. I had grand plans for going places, making a name for myself. Now I just want to build a home, cook for my husband, raise my kids. It’s strange how growing up changes our priorities…

I go back to school in about a month. I’m excited! I want to see my friends again. I have a crazy schedule this semester and I cannot wait to push myself again. But I dread it. I hate goodbyes. I’ll leave my little sister behind, missing her goofiness and the way she is always there for me. I’ll leave him behind and try not to stare wistfully at all the attached-at-the-hip couples at school. I’m torn in half – and I don’t see it changing for another few years. Sometimes growing up hurts….but I wouldn’t trade it. I just throw myself in and enjoy every moment I can.

 

Whether the sea is boiling hot


My first year of college is almost over. Let that sink in….do you have any idea how far away this has seemed? All the times during childhood that college was only a far-off dream…and now my first year is done! With the finish line looming and various academic pressures removed from my brain, I have started brainstorming a number of posts about my conclusions from this first year. I say a number of posts because there is so much to tell that one post would inevitably be TL:DR.

So, what illustrious topics will this series of posts cover? Allow me to whet your appetite!

In no specific order:

friends * growth * academics * personality changes * responsibility * distance and relationships * respect * family

I plan to write most of those posts in the next few weeks, interspersed with my usual commentary on literature and some issues that came up in my studies. In just over a week I will be back home with loads of free time! Totally kidding…I will be home, but not with free time….the full-time job and 15 credits of online classes will be running my life.

Other students….observations on the end of the year? Is it stressful? Fulfilling?

Readers in general, any of the topics I mentioned seem especially interesting? Comment and let me know. 🙂 I might make it my first post!

Side Effects of Bibliophilism – Part 1


It seems like such an innocent hobby when you’re young…read lots of books, become smart in the process, experience super cool stories, nothing bad here (except the staying up late and parents telling you you read too much (I know, seriously?), but that’s not important). Now a little older, I recognize a few side effects of such obsessive reading. I’m not saying the side effects are good or bad, simply observing that they exist. Also, there are obvious side effects (did I mention excelling at some school subjects?), but I am not dealing with those.

Side effect #1: Treating everyone around you like a fictional character. No disrespect to anyone around me meant by this. Fictional characters are good. 🙂 Realization of this side effect took awhile to dawn on me. I wrote about my fascination with people a few months ago, and started asking “why?”. Why would I look at some people and suddenly want to spend a significant amount of time picking their brain? I wanted to know what was going on in their head, where they had been, where they wanted to go. Duh! What do you learn about a character? Generally, you see some back story, read their thoughts, watch where their life goes. There is no privacy…you see everything. In the space of a few hours, I’ve probed the depths of a (imaginary) person, every tiny secret of their life.

Unfortunately, life outside of books doesn’t work that way. I have no excuse to become so knowledgeable about a person, no basis for probing them. Probably best for them…real people deserve privacy from the intense curiosity of strangers. I watched this side effect play out in my relationships too. The best excuse you have for that type of deep probing is the guise of a relationship. With no conscious intent whatsoever, I believe I may have enjoyed the high of figuring out a few of my partners as much as I actually enjoyed the “relationship.” My depression after those breakups was more from the sudden lack of connection rather than any real hurt. I have yet to decide if that was unfair to the guys…I’m just aware of it for my future relationships.

This side effect is a mixed bag. Is it bad, my desire to probe the depths of a person? Probably. However, my fascination of people leads me to be accepting and more appreciative of humanity, which is clearly a good thing. It balances out…I am fascinated from afar, with no threat to anyone’s privacy.

Has anyone else experienced this side effect? Please tell me I’m not alone!

Opera is not just socially acceptable torture


Confession: College makes me feel very uncultured. I am at a liberal arts university, where my exposure to music and drama is considered as important as my classes. I love it. Especially the drama! Plays are very cool. As are concerts….I attended a cello concert last semester and loved every minute of it.

Tonight there was a performance of Verdi’s Requiem at my school (first time in 25 years, I found out). I mostly went because I had a bunch of friends in the choir and my dad told me I should (I trust my dad’s taste in music). But it was still opera….so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

It was amazing. I was mesmerized. For a sleep-deprived college student, it’s saying something that I stayed awake through an hour and a half of singing. At the very beginning I wasn’t impressed. But after a section or two, I managed to keep up with the Latin (yay for translations in programs!). When the “Dies irae, dies illa” section started, I was hooked. To use modern terminology, it was epic. Stupendous. Awesome in the most traditional sense of the word. Full choir, booming orchestra, bone-shaking drums….it definitely makes an impression. The guest singers did a marvelous job…I’m particularly biased toward the mezzo-soprano, who was extremely classy and had a wonderfully rich voice (Latoya Lain, if you’re interested).

On a spiritual level, I had not anticipated how rich the lyrics would be. It was like reading a prayer. A gorgeous, rich, almost scriptural prayer. I was also happy that I could understand some of the Latin. 🙂

Give opera a chance…give culture a chance. It may be one of the most beautiful things you ever experience.