Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Penelopiad

Margaret Atwood writes a haunting retelling of Odysseus's travels through the eyes of his long-suffering wife Penelope. While this re-telling would have been richer if I had read The Odyssey within the last 10 years, since I did read it several times in high school and college, I remembered the basics of the story (and I also play Age of Mythology, which helps). While Atwood writes about their families and their marriage, most of the book is dedicated to the question most women ask after reading The Odyssey. Why did Penelope stay faithful all those years? Atwood answers and yet doesn't answer that question. This poignant retelling should be read in women's studies courses and also with the reading of The Odyssey in literature courses. Unlike other retellings that I've read, Atwood stays faithful to the myth yet opens up new possibilities to an old story.


My husband is coming home soon. (And I stayed faithful because he wasn't gone for 20 years and having sex with various goddesses.) I've been e-mailing his x and trying to arrange for us to have the kids as much as possible when he returns. She sent me an e-mail the other day in which she made me so angry, she was lucky we weren't having a conversation. I know that she was trying to say, "gee I really wish Wes could spend more time with the kids and therefore I will let you have as much as possible", but it came out as "I'm so sad that Wes chose the navy over the kids and therefore doesn't get to see them often, which is bad for the kids." And I know that's what she meant. How do I know that? Because the kids have asked why daddy chose the navy over them. They are also convinced that Wes has to pay to work in the navy (yes, I am being serious). I know that someday the kids will grow up and know the truth, but until then I hate the fact that this is what they think. Especially when the truth is "the kids don't get to see their dad because you decided you wanted some other man's dick in your twat and so left your husband for some guy you met on the web and had only seen in person twice. You're such a great mom that you got on a plane and flew all the way across the country to move in with this guy, even though you had only met him twice in person. So don't tell me it's my husband's fault that the kids will only be able to count the time spent with their dad in weeks and months. If you had honored your wedding vows, they would be able to count that time in years."

Ok, I've been lazy and my house is a mess. I must get to that. Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Islam: A short history

I love history but the past couple of years (a decade) have been spent concentrating on only one history: Russia/USSR. Since I'm no longer in school, I thought I'd broaden my horizons. I picked up Karen Armstrong's Islam: A short history at the library and I would highly recommend it for anyone who knows nothing about Islam.

The book is very simplistic and very basic, but it covers all the major points. Armstrong can be condescending at times, but to the readers, not religion. She is a "scholar of religion" (as the dust jacket puts it) and has written many other books about world religion. But she tends to take major issues with those who "corrupt" the original religious beliefs, especially when it's towards a more patriarchal line. Aside from occasional comments about these corruptions, the book does a great job to explain the basic tenants of the religion and its history.

Besides the narrative of book, there are several other reasons I would recommend this book for anyone wanting to know more about Islam. First, there is a great time-line at the front of the book. Second, there is a list of key figures of Islam. Third, there is a glossary of Arabic terms. Fourth, a section containing suggested further reading. Finally, and probably most importantly, the book was written before 2001. Therefore, even though Armstrong does talk about fundamentalist, it is not the focus of the book.

I feel that I could now have an intelligent conversation concerning the religion/history of Islam, although not a very detailed one. However, I now understand the difference between Sunni and Shiia. This distinction seemed important to me considering the amount of space it is currently taking up in the media. Overall the book was a fast and easy read while hitting upon the major points of importance concerning Islam. I really think anyone who opens their mouth to discuss what Muslims believe and why their history points towards terrorism should be forced to read this book. A little understanding could go a long way.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I've been running around, getting a TB test, begging professors for recommendations, which they are happy to give until I explain it's for a substitute teaching position, and just generally trying to get out of the house. I don't know why because the kids have spring break next week and I'm going to have them all week, and then Wes is back in the country so I'll be visiting him at his navy school and then we'll have the kids again. Timing is so screwed up in my life right now. Beth, to answer your question: in the States you have to have a teaching certificate to teach in K-12. Most people assume that because I have a MA I can teach. This is not true because I don't have the certificate (it usually involves a year worth of education classes). However, many school districts are desperate and would be willing to hire someone with a MA provisionally. I could teach as a regular teacher, usually for two years, during which time I would be expected to get my teaching certificate. If I didn't get the teaching certificate during that time, I would no longer be able to teach (but I could still sub).

Virginia bloomed this weekend. And while it is beautiful, I am so allergic and am going into my second day of intense sinus headaches and limited breathing capacity.

I got an e-mail from Andrea yesterday. She was my long-time really good friend who decided that buying a house was more important than I was (meaning: she was in love with my husband and didn't want to attend our wedding). Anyway, I cut things off with her last July. She sent me a very nice e-mail telling me she misses me and wants to be friends. I e-mailed back that I missed her too and hope we can be friends. We've known each other for so long so I hope we can get past this. I am a little worried though. Lately so many old friends who I had lost touch with have come back into my life that I'm afraid something bad is going to happen and God knows I'll need all the friends I can get to help me through. I hope that's just me being paranoid.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and has a great week.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Goodbye Lenin!

Last night I watched Goodbye Lenin! It had been recommended to me by several people and it deals with the end of communism. This movie is amazing, funny, intelligent and sad. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

The movie tells the story of a highly committed communist East German woman who falls into a coma right before the wall is torn down. She wakes up 8 months later to a world that is completely different. Only, her son refuses to let her know what has happened for fear that it will cause another heart attack and kick her. He sticks her in her room, creates fake news programs and generally just lies to her. But I think the best part of the movie is when he admits to himself that he created the communist society for her that he, and everyone else, wished had really existed.

And that's the sad part. In the west we assume that the end of communism was the best thing that happened to these people. But we forget that many of these people, and their parents and even grandparents before them, strove to create the perfect communist society. Many of these people believed in the ideology even when the leaders appeared to forget. And the fall of communism economically devastated thousands of people. Even if these people wanted political, religious and economic freedom, they still lost the only way of life they had ever known. This journey had to have been terrifying even for those who wanted it most. Imagine what it was/is like for those who once believed in the perfect communist society. Goodbye Lenin! deals with the issues in a sympathetic way. The ending of the movie is triumphant, both for those who considered themselves Leninist and those who wanted freedom.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Start fresh in spring

Spring began today. So it's a great time to start my "new" life. Sunday I took my last birth control pill. Now I'm cramping and in a pissy mood, but hey, that's part of being a woman. But I guess this is it. The beginning processes of baby making has begun. My husband is very excited. I am too. I'm just scared as well.

Today I went to substitute teaching orientation. I really didn't want to go, but now I am really excited about it. Because I have a MA I am qualified to teach provisionally, not only substitute. I think I will greatly enjoy subbing/teaching for the next year or so, until other things change (see above paragraph). I'm still going to look for a job at a community college, but subbing actually pays more (isn't that sad). I'm getting bored at home and extra money will be nice too.

I'm also excited because in the past couple of months I've re-established contact with four people I haven't heard from/seen for at least a year, some much longer. I love old friends. I would love some new friends too. I have a feeling we'll probably be living in Virginia Beach for at least another 6 years. If we do move, we would probably remain on the east coast to be close to Wes's kids. But, since Wes's x is from Italy, she has tentatively agreed to let the kids live with us, once they are teenagers, if Wes is stationed in Italy. But, until then, I think we're going to stay here. So I need to make some friends. It's time to start my life here. It's spring time. It's time to embrace my new life, to stop resenting the past and to create my future.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

Funniest movie ever. Ok. just because it took 4 different times to try to log in becuase I am totally buzzed (hey, three glasses of wine, because I won't be able to soon), doesn't mean this wasn't laugh out loud hilarious. Maybe not as funny as "the House of Yes" (becuase incest is the ultimate funny), but still, a great movie. Well worth the hype and everyone should see it. Could Steve Carell get any sexier than a suicidal, bearded, homosexual? I don't think so, and I watch "The Office". Everyone should have been nominated for, and won, an oscar for this movie. I think I'll watch is again tomorrow. Thank you netflix. I laughed so hard I got the hiccups. And it has a feel good ending. What more could you want for a Friday night (if your husband is at sea because of the stupid navy)?

Plays and short stories

While in Minnesota I did more than freeze and crochet an afghan. I read. I read six months worth of Smithsonian (I'm up to Jan. of 2006 now!), and plenty of Dover Thrift Editions of plays and short stories. Here's the run down.

I'm going to start by discussing two plays by two different authors at the same time.
Oliver Goldsmith, "She stoops to conquer" and Oscar Wilde "The Importance of being Earnest"
Don't bother reading these "classic" plays. Ever. Don't go see them. Don't waste your brain power wondering about them. Both were written during the time period when men were expected, and even looked up to, for being man whores, while the women could not even smile at a man without being accused of being an actual whore. The double standards in both these plays appalled me, as did the portrayal in Wilde's play of "ladies" as complete dimwitted idiots. At least the women in Goldsmith were smart. The only reason I would ever suggest any woman ever read these plays is so that they appreciate how far we've come.

Henrik Ibsen, "Hedda Gabler"
Speaking of how far we've come. Go get this play right now and read it RIGHT NOW!!! Ibsen is an incredible writer and had amazing insight into the pathetic position intelligent, ambitious women were forced into circa 1890. While Hedda could easily be misunderstood or misrepresented, it is clear that her actions stem from the frustration of being viewed as an "inferior creature". At the least, she wants to inspire her husband (or anyone) in noble and successful ventures. The play concludes when Hedda realizes she will never be the muse she desperately wants to be. . . .

Anton Chekhov, "The Three Sisters"
This play also focuses on the frustration of women around the turn of the 20th century. But it also includes wonderful clues into the provincial life of Russia at that time. Although the play is about "three sisters," the lives of the men around them reveal the disappointment and discouragement caused by the political and economic situation in Russian, which led to personal disappointment for all. The inability to change the situation and even the apathy of most of the characters lead one to understand why Russia eventually rose up in revolution in 1905.

Alexander Pushkin, "The Amateur Peasant Girl," "The shot," "The snowstorm," and "The Postmaster"
Besides the fact that Pushkin knows how to tell a story, these stories should be read for their insight into Russian society (largely provincial) between 1815 and 1837. They tell a great deal concerning attitudes towards the serfs, Europe, education, and the social order. Fun and easy to read.

Henry James, "The Turn of the Screw"
I had never read any James before. I actually think this would make a great movie (maybe there's already one). It is supposed to be a suspenseful horror story. However, since the story largely revolves around the fact that two children are going to hell because they see ghosts and today hell doesn't really factor into the supernatural, I think a movie could better deliver the suspense. And if you've read the story, yes, I realize that's not a quite accurate description of the story, but close enough.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What did I just agree to?

I just turned 33 years old. My husband will turn 34 this year. He has two children, nine and six. He told me he would like more children, but since he already has 2, it would be up to me. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. But I also thought I would be single. So I aways thought I would adopt. The thought of being pregnant just grosses me out. You have a little fungi, alien, parasitical thing living in you and it destroys your body. Who wants to go through that? Wes never had a problem with adoption. Yet, I've somehow found myself offering to try to get pregnant. What happened? Well. . . .

Because Wes already has two kids, he doesn't want to wait too long before we add to the family (we do want them out of the house before we're old). And since I have no life purpose right now, since my advisor screwed me over, I think adding to our family now is a great idea. Why are we looking to get pregnant instead of adopt? Two reasons: you have to be married for two years before you can start the adoption process and the navy hates us. Wes is currently at sea. He will get back in May. He leaves for his next 6 months at sea next April. Which is less than a year away. Our two year anniversary is in February. Between February and April doesn't really leave enough time to apply for adoption, especially for the home studies and all that. By the time he'll get home, I'll have less than 6 months before I'm 35 years old. So what is a couple to do? Why, try to get pregnant now, of course!

Wes is thrilled. Beyond thrilled. He wants twins. He even agreed (sorta) to let the kids have my last name. I am shocked, scared, and feeling way not ready for this. But I've talked to many moms who said they didn't feel ready when they became moms. Even if they wanted to be moms. My own mom admitted she felt like a "fake" mom until her third kid: I was 13 by that time. So I figure I'll work through that aspect of it. I think part of the problem is that I've only thought of myself as a student/professor in training for almost my entire life. Now switching to wife/mom is difficult. I know I was a great TA. I don't know if I'll be a great mom. There's so many fears and concerns. I am excited, but I still feel like it's not real. I guess it's not. I haven't even had sex since November. That would be a necessity for babymaking. Can't wait to start that part!

Ideally I would get pregnant right before Wes left next April. That way I wouldn't be alone with a baby. Since I suffer from depression, post-partum, especially if I were alone, is a concern. But, since I've never been pregnant before, or tried before, and I'm 33, we have no idea how long it will take for me to get pregnant. Wes thinks it'll happen right away because he apparently has magic sperm and my eggs don't really factor into that. But I would rather be pregnant and alone than have a new-born and be alone. So I hope it doesn't happen until after next January. If it doesn't happen at all, then when Wes gets back after that trip we will start the adoption process. And if we have a second kid it will be adopted. I haven't give up on that.

When I married Wes I never thought my life would change this much, this fast. I've looked stuff up on line and I'll go see the doctor within the next couple of weeks. I suppose I should go off the pill in the next couple of weeks too (hey, if his sperm is so magic, why bother?). I'll probably go to the library and check out some books. I want to make sure I'm eating right. I checked my weight to make sure it's healthy. (An aside: I bought a new bikini on Sunday. I feel like a cow in it, but I know my husband will love it. When I checked my weight, I'm less than 10 lbs over the lowest weight I should be for my height (a 30 lb spread), yet I feel like a cow. What's wrong with me?) I know I can still swim while I'm pregnant. I love to swim. And if I do get pregnant, I'll finally have boobs. That's kind of exciting.

Well, that's the big news in my life.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Camille!!!

Today is Camille's 33rd birthday. When Camille and I first met, she was a grade ahead of me and she had lied to everyone about her age, claiming to be a year older than she was. We were teenagers, and it was cool to be older. So I wouldn't be surprised if Camille decided she was only 32 this year. I'm watching you girl: I know the game.

This was the earliest picture of us I could find (I know my dad has earlier pictures of us at a school formal, but really, why would I want to embarass us like that). I think we're 18. There was another picture I wanted to post, but I couldn't find it. It wasn't a very flattering picture of Camille but her little baby sister is in the bottom corner with her finger up her nose. I love that picture. Anyway, I wish Camille's hair wasn't pulled back because it went down to her waist. It was really beautiful. And in case you weren't sure where her waist was, just look at the jeans. Apparently this was before people decided it was cool to have jeans so low your crack always showed.

Happy Birthday Camille!!! I hope you have a great year and that life gets easier with age and wisdom.

Also, happy birthday to my cousin Shanti.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I can go outside without a coat on!

I am home in Virginia Beach. It is warm and sunny. I have my bedroom window open. It is a beautiful thing. There is so much to write about, so this will probably be unorganized and incomplete.

Things I did when in Minnesota.
I crocheted an entire afghan. The size is slightly off because I started adding stitches somewhere and we didn't take out all the rows that had extra stitches. We only took out 8 of them (yes, we caught it after about a foot). But I did it and I enjoyed it and I will do it again. I am creative!!! So there.
I started flossing my teeth everyday. Something I always knew I should do, but never "had time" to do it. I had plenty of time there. Now my teeth will be even more beautiful.
I decided I will never live where it gets that cold. I don't mind the snow: it can be beautiful. But the cold, that's completely different. I'm just going to talk half of my family into moving someplace warmer.

I had a wonderful time with my grandma and I know I will always cherish these memories. I got her to tell me alot of stories. Some I wanted to know (when she started crocheting, driving, quilting), others I didn't want or need to know (how my grandpa was in bed). But I'm sad because I know she's lonely now. When I called to tell her I was home she told me how much it meant to her that I was there and she started crying. I hope she starts getting involved in her church and with her friends again. I don't want my grandma to be lonely. I did ask her to come with me, but she said no.

I also got to spend some time with my cousin and we had a great time. I really do like my family. I just wish they weren't all so far away.

I've already picked up my mail and paid all the bills. Now I just have to read the 10 magazines and 4 catalogs that I also got. And figure out what the book club sent me that I didn't order. I need to clean and do laundry (after I unpack), get groceries, clean out my fridge because some genius decided not to do it before they left (oh, if I wait three weeks, they'll be able to walk into the garbage disposal), e-mail and call a ton of people (if you're one of them, please be patient) and then find a job. And the time changes tonight, so it's like I'm losing two hours instead of one. At least I get to go outside without a coat on. Did I mention that my plants hate me right now too? I think most of them will revive shortly though.

On a sadder note, while I was gone I found out that my first youth pastor, who has remained a family friend, passed away. He has had brain cancer (or something like that) for more than two years. They originally gave him less than 6 months, but he got into a trial study. During that time he was able to put his things in order to make sure his wife would be taken care of and he was able to walk his only daughter (and only child) down the aisle when she married. He was a wonderful man with a great sense of humor. He was truly a godly man, one who loved God and showed God's love to others. He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered.

Also, Phoenix's aunt (his mama's sister) died of a drug overdose on Wednesday. She was only 20 years old. Phoenix doesn't understand what's going on, but he does understand that his mama is sad and that she keeps crying. They were very close and it looked like her sister was trying to get clean. I guess it only takes one relapse. I feel so bad for them. Do you think it would be appropriate for me to send a sympathy card?

That's all I'm going to write for now. I have plenty more to write later. I hope everyone is doing well and I'm so glad to be back home.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I'll bring the blizzard

Thursday was my birthday. And what did I get. I got a blizzard. With 18 inches of snow. This is me yesterday (Friday) in the pile of snow taken from my grandma's one car driveway, before the last 3 inches of snow arrived. Yes, apparently I am a bad weather bringer. If you remember, my family got stuck in Colorado a couple days after Christmas in all that mess. And when I tried to get out to MN the whole Northeast was buried. And now this. I am so ready to go home.

But the day was good. My grandma made me a cake. My dad called early to let me know how beautiful the weather was in TX (thanks dad). My mom called later. And then, to make me very, very happy, Camille called. That really made my day. I knew she was thinking of me, but I hadn't given her my grandma's number and my cell doesn't work up here (I told you I was in the middle of nowhere). She had called my mom to get my number and that made me so happy. When I went to bed I thought about what a great friend she is and realized that we have been friends for 20 years. And I'm sure we'll be friends for 20 more years. Then we'll still be only 33 years old. Because I just can't live through many more blizzards!