After watching Bugs Bunny slap an innocent bystander's face twice and explain to Daffy, "He had such a slappable face," Harper tells me about a boy who got hurt in PE. He developed a large swollen bruise above his eye and she was very concerned about it. And also fascinated. "I wanted to touch it. Like the cartoon guy had a slappable face? My friend had a very touchable booboo." I laughed until I cried at how she phrased it. But I knew exactly what she meant. I'm a nurse, after all. I always knew why Jesus had to touch the lepers when he healed them.
Recently one of my friends was distressed that she was only now seeing a fault in a person she has known a long time. She's so good about seeing the good in people, but was feeling for the first time as if perhaps she has been naive. She wondered aloud if she should start being more suspicious of the goodness she sees in others.
I hope she does not. It's a difficult place to be, a hurting place, but a beautiful balancing act- seeing people in all their flawed wholeness. The good my friend sees in others is accurate. It is there. It's just that there is more than goodness. There are weaknesses in people as well. There is the Darkness. People struggle. They hurt themselves and others. And it takes a special person who can see the whole person- the good and bad- and still love them. Still touch them. To not pull away in fear or bitterness or hate. It's so much easier to put people in the categories of "good" or "bad". Except that people never stay in those caterories if we are paying attention. Love says that is okay. Somehow. Though we are discouraged and exhausted at times. I am so thankful for those who manage to love people entirely. May it come back to them in every possible way.
Thanks for nothing, Louisa May Alcott.
My Grandmother Henson gave me the book Little Women on my tenth birthday (a treasured possesion. She wrote lovely things inside it.) I started reading it the same day. Ten days or so later, I came to the part about Laurie asking Jo to marry him. Jo said no. I was so horrified and taken aback that I reread the scene four times. I thought I misunderstood.
I was distraught, but there were many pages of the book left. All this will be remedied in time, my ten year-old self told my ten year-old self.
And then, on that fateful Thanksgiving morning of 1987- I read the scene where Laurie sweeps into the room with his new wife- AMY!
Ah! The gnashing of teeth! The inner wailing! The tearing of hair! Not that little twit! If it can't be Jo- maybe Beth. But not Amy! Never Amy!
Thanksgiving was ruined.
I wanted to throw the book but I couldn't! It was too precious to me.
I suffered, of course, in silence. Bitter cranberry sauce from the can, how you torment me to this day. My Grandmother never once asked me where I was in the book. Who my favorite character was. (JO. Of course. JO.) Or if I even liked it. People often remarked about how I liked to read but no one ever engaged me in a conversation about what I was reading. This continued until college.
In college, and since- I have heard at least five other people (okay, they probably have all had vaginas) say that they were incredibly upset that Laurie and Jo did not get married. That Laurie married that little minx, Amy. I cannot tell you how delighted I was when I heard these book-nerd confessions. I thought I was the only one! I may as well have been. Floating alone in a galaxy of books for almost the first eighteen years of my life.
All that to say- I am thankful for all my nerdy literature friends. So thankful. And for all of you who respond as passionately as I do to "fiction".
Jad: He takes these bits of classical muzac and records it onto analog tape and loops it...)
"...and in transferring the analog tapes onto digital, I grabbed this one very grave, stately loop I had forgotten about, and I set it up and left the room to get coffee and then realized something had changed- I looked and could see the tape was shredding..."
(Jad: The thing to understand about tape- it's iron oxide powder glued to a piece of plastic- so the iron powder is music- but after twenty or thirty years, the glue loses it's strength, so the dust falls off onto the floor- his music is actually falling onto the floor.)
"...and after a course of about an hour- the music disintegrated. I did this with all the tapes. And they all seemed to have the same pattern. Just listen-
...I'm recording the life and death of a melody...
and it just made me think of human beings."
-from the Loops episode of RadioLab, October 4, 2011
Harper, at the end: Mom, it's the youngest princess that I cannot trust? The youngest? But I can trust the wolves? And it is okay to feed the hungry creatures?
K: I'll read it again to you tomorrow night. Just remember to be brave and to use your best manners. And to trust your story. Good night.
"When we give our children the freedom to take those first steps out into the dark of Halloween night, we are allowing them to learn, first-hand, that the foreboding darkness that will envelop them will not, in fact, consume them.
...at every open door on Halloween night, children and their parents are enacting the universal principle of giving — namely, that it is good (indeed it is a sign of our inner humanity) that we can willingly open our doors and give generously to complete strangers, even to those who wear masks, making them unrecognizable and frightening to us. There is always more than meets the eye.
Halloween can be as grace-filled as it is black-dark, a night to discover, year after year, that when we venture out into the darkness of the unknown, the night can be beautiful. Others are kind. Evil is actually a lot like a monster mask, and after an exhilarating few hours of exploring the dark, we can always return to the light of home, safe and sound."
-from the blog-post Facing Our Darkness on Halloween Night by Caroline Oakes, on the always fantastic On Being website
(Thank you, Micah.)
We have a tradition at our house. On Saturdays, Harper comes and gets in bed with me and watches cartoons while I try to sleep for another half-hour. Last Saturday morning I turned on the television and the slow feminist biopic, The Young Victoria (Emily Blunt) was on- and I tried to turn the channel to cartoons and Harper would not let me. She was fascinated- and I became fascinated with her fascination. The following conversation is very, very real.
H: Which guy is her boyfriend?
K: The one with brown hair.
H: Why is his hair like that?
K: They thought it was stylish at the time.
H: Why doesn't she just marry him?
K: Because she didn't want anyone to be her boss. Also, she was afraid that he was only pretending to like her because she was the Queen. She was being careful. She was being smart.
H: Would it be best for you if I never got married?
K: (sitting up from pillows and blankets) NO! No- what would be best for me is if you are happy! I want you to get married if that is what will make you happy- I just want you to be like Victoria and take your time...okay? Be smart. Take your time? Look at me. I want you to be happy.
H: Okay. So why do grown-ups kiss like that?
K: (groan) Let's watch cartoons! Aren't you hungry? Let's make crepes with nutella!
"We know of an ancient radiation
that haunts this member constellation-
a faintly glimmering radio station.
While Frank Sinatra sings "Stormy Weather"
the flies and spiders conspire together.
Cobwebs fall on an old skipping record...
An old man sits collecting stamps
in a room all filled with Chinese lamps.
He saves what others throw away;
he says that he'll be rich someday."
"Frank Sinatra" -Cake
Tonight I met Harper and Micah at an antique store. They walked me through the dusty aisles, showing me treasures they had found. Harper had bought a gold locket with her allowance. Micah picked up a black and white photo of a man sitting alone at a piano. He got down on his knees. "Harper- this is a picture of a man who fell in love with a girl who only loved music. And so he learned to play this piano. He practiced for hours every day, and he would play her beautiful songs on the piano when she came to visit him. He hoped that this would make her fall in love with him, but she never did. He died all alone."
Harper asked if that was a true story or not, Micah shrugged, and I looked at him with quizzled eyebrows. "Harper and I have been making up a story about everything that we see here while we were waiting for you."
"Yes. That-" he said, pointing to a pair of chairs behind me, "is where the King and Queen sat. And this-" he said, picking up the black and white photo of a eight year old girl, "was taken the day before she drowned in the lake."
Harp nods at me sagely, and moves on to the next object that catches her interest, a pink crystal flower vase priced at a thousand dollars.
"Keep talking," I say, as we move to catch up with our daughter.
Which is not as important as the Marginalia Factor, but still...
"These days, for a lot of our big titles, digital is outselling physical. That’s not what we’re seeing with A Dance With Dragons, and it really speaks to George’s fan base,” Scott Shannon, the publisher for digital content at Random House, said. I think it also speaks to the need to have something solid to hold onto at the center of the storm. Maybe no one can fully explain the explosion of the Harry Potter and “Ice and Fire” franchises, but fans can quite easily explain to themselves why they are fans: it’s because of the books. Having the physical incarnation of a phenomenon sitting on a shelf isn’t just exciting—it’s reassuring."
-via The New Yorker's Book Bench
I joined a mailing list/program when I was in Amsterdam and visited the Anne Frank House. So I receive this email today:
"Het is mogelijk om voorafgaand aan uw bezoek een inleidend programma te volgen. Voor groepen zijn er diverse opties, maar ook als individu kunt u online een plaats bij een introductieprogramma reserveren."
Hm. Here's my best guess, "Here is magic on "voorafgaand" and a "bezoek" in an online program for folks. For groups of diverse options, there is also individual. Can u online in plates if you are introducing yourself to a reserved program?"
Well, can you? I'm not even sure how to unsubscribe. I guess using Google Translate would be worth a try.
Wait! I'm going to guess that this is where I unsubscribe: Je abonnement stoppen? Meld je af.
(Stoppen!) Let's find out...