Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reading and Writing

I mentioned a couple posts ago that I started reading Gone With the Wind. At just shy of 1000 pages, this book is quite a time investment. Sunday I came up on the 300 page mark. And I temporarily (I hope) set the book aside. I'm afraid to stop reading it because I mostly likely won't return, but I needed a break. Why, you ask? Well, I cannot stand Scarlett or Rhett! They're conniving, selfish characters with, so far, no redeeming qualities. I'm hard pressed to understand why people love this book, let alone read it more than once. My brain hurts with trying to jive the protagonists with an enjoyment of the reading process. Have any of you read the book?

To give myself a reprieve from the silly, selfish characters permeating Gone With the Wind, I decided to pick up and re-read Anne Fadiman's book of essays Ex Libris. This collection is a treasure-trove of unusual words and wonderful essays about reading, books, and fascination with words.

Fadiman is a writer I'd love to emulate. Her style is invitingly readable, but not in the least silly. I think I mentioned in a post way back when, that I first read an essay by her--Marrying Libraries--in my creative nonfiction writing class in college. I remember being delighted as I read it, but didn't think much more about it (too many other reading and writing assignments vying for my attention). A couple years later, post-college, as I was working at a used bookstore, I happened to pick up Ex Libris and peruse the table of contents. The first essay jogged my memory with a spark of delighted surprise, Marrying Libraries. Without a thought, I bought the volume for a few dollars and started reading. When I finished the slim book, I wanted to give copies to everyone I knew that loved to read (much how I feel about 84 Charing Cross Road). I wanted to spread the wealth of this small gem. I wanted to read it all over again.

Back in my college days, I dared to dream I might just be able to write such essays that would grab the attention and leave tendrils of memories behind to be jogged several years later into happy reminiscence. These days after working, cooking, cleaning, and all the other realities of life come calling, I find myself flat of ideas, unable to imagine crafting words into anything worth sharing. But, I haven't given up hope. I read books of essays to inspire me and every once in a while I'll pull out an old essay I wrote and think, "Wow, I really did know how to write once upon a time." So, maybe there is still a little of that writer in me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


For reasons I don't fully understand God placed Jeremy and me in a very transient city, where people come and go because of the University. It's been hard enough making new friendships as a young couple in a new city, but knowing that most of them will move along in a few years is hard.

Last night we had our friends Richard and Elora over for supper. Jeremy met them shortly after he moved up here two years ago and so, they can be called our oldest friends here. At the end of June they are moving to Paris for 5 months. They'll be back, but not for more than a year or two. Before we know it Richard will have completed his PhD and they'll be off to another place.

We joined a small group through our church last fall. The couple that hosted it are moving to Ohio in the next couple months. Eric just graduated with his PhD. And while he's still looking for a job, Brooke, his wife, got a teaching job.

The one other couple that we're friends with we thought we're lifers here, but Rich is currently interviewing for a job in Oregon. Of course there is no guarantee that they'll move, but still...

Some days I truly wonder what God was thinking when he moved us here. But, I do know that our aloneness here has caused Jeremy and me to grow closer. And, we don't take our friends for granted.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

For a week now I've been wanting to blog. But, I've had nothing much to say.

In my kitchen: I've been cooking peanut lime Mexican salad, chocolate chip cookies, pesto pasta, Danish strawberry pudding, lemon salmon with green beans.

From my bookshelf: I finished Sense and Sensibility last weekend and promptly started into Gone With the Wind.

I promise I'll be back here shortly with something more substantial. But for now, I hope you are enjoying a pleasant Thursday!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Words of conviction and encouragement.

Do you ever have those Sundays where you come away particularly convicted, but also encouraged? Sunday was one of those days for me.

Pastor Mark preached from John 14:22-29. In this Jesus tells His disciples, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." Jesus does not tell us to keep his words but his word. In John 1, it says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." I am not a Bible scholar, but here are my thoughts. When Jesus tells His disciples (he is speaking to His disciples there with Him, but also to all the disciples to come) to "keep my word" it seems to me He is referring to Himself. Believe in Jesus and He will make His home in us.

Okay here was what convicted me: self-criticism. I can't remember exactly how this fit into the sermon (I promise, I was paying attention!), but near the end Pastor Mark brought up self-criticism and how dwelling in that is harmful for us. I am, and always have been I think, rather hard on myself. I demand perfection of myself and grow frustrated when I fail, which not surprisingly pretty much happens every time. (You'd think I'd learn.) I've been very much aware of late that this isn't right. God created me. He loves me. And yet I berate myself to no end. I struggle to see the beauty in myself that I know that God sees, that He created, that He loves. Having high standards for myself isn't wrong, but unattainable expectations that leave me frustrated with myself and often with God, is unhealthy and wrong. My goal in life should be to glorify God in how I live and I cannot fully participate in that with the way I have been living and viewing myself. I've been praying for God to cause me to learn to see myself through His eyes, that I might live a glorifying life. My Jeremy has also been encouraging me in this.

The encouragement: I am a child of God; I know that. However, perhaps out of laziness, I often think of my salvation as a passive occurrence. You know, that Jesus died on the cross and eventually because of that I was saved. On Sunday I was reminded that my salvation is an active act of love. Jesus didn't die and rise again for the possibility of my salvation, He went through that specifically to purchase my salvation. If I was the only person in history that was saved, Jesus would still have died. Wow! My salvation was part of that plan from the beginning. He died for me, for Stephanie! I've known this since I was a child, but what a blessing to be reminded of Christ's love for me. My eyes filled with tears as I thought about Jesus suffering on the Cross so that this girl, born in the 20th century would be saved to eternal life. That Jesus desired specifically to make His home in me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A little family time...

Last weekend Jeremy and I headed down for a visit to my family. The highlight for me, besides visiting family of course, was Mom and my trip to a local salvage grocery filled with organic and many gluten-free products. I spent more money than maybe I should have, but was delighted with purchases like 5lbs of chocolate chips for $5 (Enjoy Life tasty!), 5lbs of fruit juice sweetened craisins for $7, and a couple boxes of gf cookies for $1 a box! I'm pretty sure Mom and I will be making treks there on many of my visits, I don't think she'll mind too much.

I also enjoyed some quality time with my 3 adorable nephews. I always get to see them when I visit, but this time I had more one-on-one time with them. As they see Jeremy and I the least, they aren't quite as comfortable with us, so not having the distraction of all the other aunts and uncles was sort of fun. Titus (20 mon.) even took a liking to me, last time he cried any time he had to be left in a room with me. This may have been in part because I asked him to help me make mashed potatoes; he like that a lot, but might have enjoyed the eating of them even more!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Jane, creator of romance novels?

This week I finished reading a delightful book by Claire Harman called, Jane's Fame, How Jane Austen Conquered the World. If you read and like Jane Austen, I'd highly recommend this book. Harman writes in an accessible style, mixing her critical research into a flowing narrative. I never knew there was so little biographical information about Jane. So much of her life and work is left to the imagination. Which, I suppose is partly why she is beloved. People can find in her writing, ideas they feel directly relate to them. Jane's characters are friends to any who desire their companionship.

Now, I am admittedly not a Jane Austen addict because I've not even read all of her novels. But I want to. She intrigues me. And the ones I have read I've liked. I appreciate her work, but I do not moon over Mr. Darcy.

While reading, I was surprised and a little disturbed that Jane Austen is considered the mother of the romance genre. I rather mock romance novels, but found this passage fascinating:

When the American imprint Silhouette Romances was being planned in the 1970s, everything in them was written to a formula developed by market research: Even the name of the series (perhaps subconsciously evoking Austen) came from a consumer survey result. A group of women readers were asked what the ideal attributes of a romantic novel were, from the age of the heroine to the overall length of the book. The resulting tip sheet for writers could just as easily be applied to Austen's novels: the heroines were always to be "young and virginal," the heroes "strong and assertive," the plots utterly predictable, and the endings happy. There was to be no violence, blood, or pain; no slang language or obscenity, and no premarital sex. The heroine's age should be between nineteen and twenty-seven, and she should not be "beautiful in the high fashion sense." The hero should be eight to twelve years older than the heroine, "not necessarily handsome," but virile and not married, though he could be bereaved or divorced--as long as that wasn't his fault. Austen's novels clearly contributed to this formula as well as shared the basic instincts behind it.

Of course Harman doesn't leave it completely at that, she goes on to show the differences (and Austen definitely wins my favor, while romance novels will continue to get a bad rap from me). Austen's books obviously are devoid of much physical contact between men and women. But according to Harman, "the very absence of explicit eroticism leaves her books charged with sexual feeling...In a permissive age, the restraint and decorousness of her loves scenes seem in themselves erotic, and the idea of the heroines attracting so much male attention by making so few sexual concessions becomes, for the modern woman, an unattainable fantasy of female empowerment."

Interesting, at least. Have you read all of Jane Austen? What's your favorite?

Friday, May 7, 2010


Do you know what pecuniary means?

A couple days ago, while working in the children's department at my library, a man sat at child-height table working on his computer. Barefoot. His military-style boots sat unused beneath the table. For a time he walked a lap around the room every 10 or so minutes. Barefoot. This you might expect of a three-year-old. But not him. I shelved some books near his table. He pulled out his ear-buds and asked, "Do you know what pecuniary means?" I said, "I'm pretty sure it has to do with money." He laughed in that way that alerted me to the fact that he might be flirting with me but it was hard to tell, and said, "I thought you might know, since you're a librarian you have a few extra IQ points. And I thought I'd borrow some of that knowledge. The wonderful thing about knowledge is that you can share it, but still keep it." And he laughed some more. I sort of acquiesced to the awkwardness of this and moved on, thinking that he was sitting in front of a computer and could have used and borrowed their knowledge and IQ points.

I returned to the reference desk and used myself. The first definition: of or pertaining to money. So, I'd steered him the right direction despite the fact that I had no context for his question. The strange thing is, I don't know why I knew the answer so readily. It was like the definition was resting in an area of my brain just waiting to be exercised. And of the handful of people that I told the story to, not one of them knew what the word meant. Strange. I guess I'm going to have to thank my dad for being a user of unusual words and my mom for all those years of teaching.

And so another day at the library passes...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

That Spider

At night, a spider in the bathroom taunting me. Twice I take a tissue to remove it to the toilet. Twice it's jumped to safety. Tonight I expect to find that spider taunting me. Again.
Copyright Facts, Facets, Fancies, and Fairy Tales 2009. Powered by Blogger.Designed by Ezwpthemes .
Converted To Blogger Template by Anshul . Premium Wordpress Themes | Premium Templates | Blogger Template