Monday, December 20, 2010

A Room of One's Own

At long last, I have an office in our house. Well, office and craft storage, and cat room, but at least it has no litter boxes in it!

Due to the marvelous efforts of The Husband, my walls are painted in shades of rosy purple (yes, it actually works) and the "A-frame" desk set we found fits perfectly. My comfy reading chair is installed (complete with cats). All I need now is a desk lamp and a reading lamp -- and, of course, to completely clean out and arrange everything. But that's minor in comparison!

We will also be getting the puppy in January, so we must make space for all those things puppy-related. I'm still working out how I feel about events so conspiring -- losing Pooty still has all the pain of losing someone you love, and no other pet will replace him. I think it is more difficult because I wasn't expecting it in the least. Ophelia I know will be passing soon-ish -- she's given us enough scares and with her diabetes and her age, I'm hardening myself to it. Pooty just...went.

Anyway, we will be adding Zeus to our household in January. He's wiggly and curly and should be an interesting addition, especially now that Caliban is just barely turning into domesticated feline (he still gets very agitated at times, very suddenly, and will bite VERY hard. This weekend, I was petting him when he looked out a window and saw a strange cat in another yard some distance away, and just LATCHED onto my hand. He was all sweet and apologetic later, but it HURT.)

Anyway, I have more books to bring up, all kinds of stuff to arrange nicely, garbage to gather, and maybe I should eat a little breakfast that doesn't involve a Christmas cookie.

Friday, December 17, 2010

So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading

So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson

Surprisingly enough, reading about someone else's adventures in reading is surprisingly interesting, involving, even addictive.

I originally picked the book by the title -- I suspect someone on Goodreads I know had it in his or her list and I grabbed it from there, or perhaps I saw it somewhere else. I can't remember. But I checked it out from the library and, while checking the first page, got hooked. While I don't have the author's job or her reading appetite (at least, not any more -- once upon a time I read to live), she and I share many habits -- the "double booking" (although I tend to keep book harems), the mood reading, the piles of books yet unread waiting for that moment I know is coming when I will want one of them, the problems of friendships and book loaning, the idea that each book is a relationship. I was surprised to read someone else putting these thoughts into words. My reading has slowed, I think, because of late my life hasn't left me with the energy and courage to start up these new relationships. It's easier to reread familiar books.

I've also compiled a new list of books I want to try reading (like I needed MORE). Whether Nelson liked the book or didn't finish it, the casual way she discusses books and book readers is so true to my own life that I have to try her recommendations.

This book has a few years on it, aging in a way that is particular to such books -- after all, she's talking about books and authors that were new to her in 2003, and 7 years is enough time to put some age on the titles she mentions. However, the ideas about reading and readers don't age. Her voice -- familiar to me, casual, honest, funny -- captured my attention and made me read when I should have slept.

Encouraged by her example, I'm dedicating 2011 to a similar task -- reading one book a week and keeping a record of it. I don't expect to get a book deal out of it (if only!) but I might reduce my "To-Read" shelf a bit. 52 books seems, at once, like a completely attainable goal and like the purist folly, but I feel inspired.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One of my favorite comics of all time, 9 Chickweed Lane, is currently irritating me greatly. Let me explain. In the current story arc,Seth, a character who identifies as gay, is taking it upon himself to inform another character, Roger, who is married with many children, thatRoger is also gay. Family members of Roger are variously surprised that Roger hasn't figured it out for himself.

Now, this is offensive to me. I find it incredibly insulting that having a character presume to dictate to another person what that second person's sexuality should be is used for humor. The gay community has dealt with this sort of thing for...ever, actually. Many a gay person has been told they could just be straight, they really are straight, if only they'd realize it. And that's insulting. It's no less insulting when the situation is reversed. Seriously, I would not consider doing such a thing or even offering it as a joke to tell someone what their sexual identity should be. It is deeply wrong.

It offends me, too, because usually 9 Chickweed lane is perceptive, sharp, and aware. Mr. McEldowney has impressed me for years with his story lines, his sharp jokes about everything from politics to religion to cats, and yet here he seems to have a giant blind spot. That "everyone" (well, one person so far, but that character is a stand in) proclaims to know Roger's sexuality better than he does is just more mud.

Seriously, I'm of the opinion that, all other things being equal, how someone chooses to identify is his or her own damned business. If someone wants to live a life of denial, well, that is his or her right, just as it is someone's right to say "I'm gay", "I'm bi", "I'm transexual" or even "I'm straight". It's not up to anyone else to dictate, to walk over and say "Hey, you are gay."

You know, in many situations, that's considered bullying, and there's a lot of outcry about it. But, in this case, the character doing the bullying is also gay, openly and apparently happily. This gay character tried living in denial for a while but came out to himself and the world, and yay for him. It would be nice if such things were non issues, if someone's sexuality was like someone's eye color, just another factor of identity without particular judgment attached. But the particular behavior being used here is so very wrong, no matter how it's being couched for purposes of humor, that I find myself just shaking with anger about it.

However, being gay does not give one any more carte blanche to dictate sexuality to others than being straight does. It simply isn't acceptable in any case. It isn't "context appropriate". Gay people are insulted, bullied, tormented and made miserable by this very behavior and if it's wrong to try to make gay people be straight, then the reverse is also wrong. That should be obvious.

Anyway, I'm angry about it and I wish I could tell Mr. McEldowney that. I was holding out a little hope that he was going to make the very same point I am making and have Roger get up on Seth about Seth's control freak, presumptuous, bullying ways, but today's strip took that possibility off the table and made me think that Mr. McEldowney thinks that it's perfectly fine and appropriate behavior without considering the ramifications of it.

Yeah, I take my comics quite seriously.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And we move on

Thanks, everyone. I'm not quite passed the cry-at-every-thought stage yet, but I'm working on it.

Picked up a book at the library called "So Many Books, So Little Time" in which a woman tries to read a book a week for a year, and writes about the experience. I'm already well into it quite unexpectedly, but I've bemoaned my lack of reading so much that I'm going to make a stab at it myself.

Yes, 52 books in 52 weeks. It's not impossible. Once upon a time I read that and more. I have at least two friends who manage more than that and yet still keep up with house, pets, jobs, and lives. I just have to do a little pruning of time wasters -- and I have plenty of those. Part of that will be cutting down on frivolous computer time via the power of a timer. Yes, yes, I hear you. Going to try it anyway.

Got my book list going, too, in an attempt to trim down the huge pile of books I have waiting for me to read them. I'm instituting only a few rules for myself -- I will give a book 3 chapters or 100 pages, which ever is larger, and if I don't like it I drop it into stuff for Bookmooch and move on. If I don't finish a book within the week allotted, I list it as "unfinished", stick a marker in it, and go to the next book. If I really loved it, maybe I'll finish the next book faster so I can go back to the one unfinished. If I finish a book early, I can go on to the next book. There's no guarantee on the order of reading -- I can pick any book I currently own or can check out from the library (I'm limiting -- ok, trying to limit -- what I buy for a while until I pare down what I have) and I can read whatever appeals. No rereads unless I have finished 52 books.

Sounds completely doable at this point. We shall see.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Goodbye, Pooty Prince

Petruchio, the cat we called Pooty, died tonight.

He walked up to me on the street in Mt. Dora 15 years ago. It was instant love.

I will miss him forever and ever.

Pooty

My lovely grey stripy boy is not doing well. He's 15 now, so his refusal to eat is indicative.

More as time reveals.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Book Review -- All About "All About Eve"

All About "All About Eve" by Sam Staggs

I've seen the movie All About Eve an embarrassing number of times, and I've wondered often about how this little gem of classic film came to be. All my questions are answered in Sam Staggs' book -- in fact, he answers questions that had never occurred to me.

Yes, this book is full of juicy gossip, but that's not the heart of it (just the fun part). Staggs explores everything connected to this movie, from the much debated origins of the original short story "The Wisdom of Eve" to its assorted homages and reinventions everywhere from on Broadway to in porn. He explores much of what went into making the film -- script, acting, directing, editing, costumes, set, music -- and even spends a rather involved chapter digging into assorted interpretations of the text.

Mostly, this is a fan of the movie telling all he can find out to other fans of the movie, all in a chatty, breezy, very readable style. I stayed up late reading this because it was so much fun and so interesting. While it might delve into too much minutia for a casual reader, it holds treasure for classic movie buffs.

And I shall never think of Celeste Holm in the same way again.