Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Project 40: May/June


“The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd
I think my grandma must have given me this book to read a couple of years ago, because it has her name in it. A teenage girl, Lily, runs away from her abusive father with the family’s black housemaid, Rosaleen, after Rosaleen gets thrown in jail for trying to register to vote in Georgia in 1964. They run to a bee farm run by three black sisters in South Carolina, following Lily’s hopes of learning more about her deceased mother. It’s a great story with a lot of heart, but not written with a real mushy, sentimental tone. It was enjoyable to read. A


“Light in August” by William Faulkner

I followed up a book set in the South with another. I’d read Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” and loved it, so I had high expectations for this book. Conclusion? The book was entirely too long. If it had been about 100 pages shorter, maybe I would have liked it more, but because the author jumped around so much in time with lengthy and (I felt) pointless histories of each peripheral character, I got worn out by the end. It started out great, but dragged by the middle. C+

“The God of Small Things” by Arundati Roy
This was the second time that I read this. The first time was my sophomore year of college in an honors lit class. I liked it then, and I ran out of books to read at my parents house, so I started it again. It's probably one of my favorites, just because the language is so great. The story is set in India and follows the Kochamma family, especially the fraternal twins Rahel and Estha and their mother. There are a lot of Indian caste politics involved, as well as dysfunctional family dynamics. I think what I like most is that the kids play with language, spelling words backwards and reconfiguring them the way they actually hear them, like singing "Rejoice in the Lord Or-rol-ways" A+

"Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis
I was supposed to have read this book for a class on historical fiction. Yeah, I never did that. It's a pretty good book, although the pacing sometimes gets a little boring. The story jumps from the 21st century, where Oxford historians send students back in time for research, to the 14th century, where one such student has been "dropped" during Christmas. The first third of the book is kind of frustrating because Kivrin, the student, can't understand the contemps she meets because of a malfunction in her translator, and it gets old. Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, a mystery disease is complicating EVERYTHING! Other than that, it's a pretty interesting and intense book. I'm a big fan of stuff about time travel, even if it's just to one place and time. B+

"Buddha, Volume One: Kapilavatsu by Osamu Tezuka"
A graphic novel about the life of the Buddha? I'm there! Since it's a graphic novel, it goes super fast. It's not completely serious. Tezuka throws in some jokes about turning water into coke and draws himself into a few frames. It ends with the birth of Siddhartha, and I'll probably try to read the rest of the series to decide whether they all tell me what I want to know about the Buddha. I think for people like me who are just trying to get an idea about Buddhism, it's probably pretty decent. Stay tuned. For now B+

"Two Truths and a Lie" by Scott Schofield
This is the script for a one man show about the life of the author, a female to male transsexual. It's mostly in a lighthearted tone, with sit-com like recollections of involvement in debutante balls in the South when the author still identified as a female lesbian. There are few pictures to help you figure out what's actually going on, but it's short enough to read in an hour in the car, which is what I did. B+

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Cleaning out the closet

This coming weekend I'm moving to my fourth residence within a year. I hate moving with a passion. Last time was a little easier because I only lived in the place for four months and most of that time I knew or hoped that I'd be moving out, so I just never unpacked my boxes.

I heard somewhere that every six months you should clean out the closet of what you believe, to see if you really believe it or if you're just going along with something because it's easiest. I think I'm overdue. So tonight, as Eminem says, I'm cleaning out my closet. Do I still believe in God? Yes. Do I believe that what Jesus taught is good and true? Yes. Do I believe that Christianity is the religion most suited to carry out those teachings? I don't know so much.

For the first time since I've been a Christian, I'm ok with looking at the beliefs of other religions without a Biblical screen. I don't feel like I have to block out everything that isn't Christianity as a cult. It's scary, like free-falling through the world of religion kind of hoping I'll land firmly on Christianity because it's a big organized religion and that makes things easier. But I'm frustrated with the lack of unity in Christianity. Jesus, why didn't you explicitly say that all peoples are equal and that God is for everyone? Baha'u'llah did a much better job, and his religion has pretty much stuck together so far. Maybe I ought to give it a couple millennia, except then, according to him, there will be another Mouthpiece of God to fill his shoes.

So with a spiritual chip-tossing, a move that's kind of contingent on landing safely back at Christianity, and a beyond complicated trip across the country, I spend most of my time in a mental daze. I wish I could unpack these boxes already.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Food crisis and grade schools

I went to get groceries today, including a loaf of bread. I noticed that the price of the brand of bread that I normally buy had gone up 20 cents since the last time I bought groceries. There's that domestic food crisis pinch.

I don't really understand all this. I don't know enough to know the reasons for the "crisis" and the conspiracy theorist in me thinks it could be everyone talking about a food crisis so much that it manifests itself.

All I know is that the school where I work has a deal with a nutrition company that requires that every student take an entree and a milk, even if they don't want it. Sometimes there is not a vegetarian option. I don't know what would happen if a student was a vegan and refused to take both. What really kills me is that even though the students aren't allowed the choice of leaving the milk, once they touch the carton, it's "contaminated" and they have to dispose of the milk. That means I watch the lunch aids open 20 or so milk cartons (just in the lunch period that I'm there) and dump them out into a bucket.

I understand that they're trying to get the students to eat healthy and get all their nutrients and calories, but it's still bogus. I'm writing a letter to the school district.