Friday, December 17, 2010

Project for Awesome time!

Here's the video that I've made for the Project for Awesome about the Camphill community where I'm living and working this year. Project for Awesome is a day when youtube promotes videos made by people who care about charity rather than kittens playing piano. Here's my video:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Santa Claus is coming to London

This Saturday I went to london with a resident from my house. We didn't go to shop or go to a museum or a West End musical. We went to sing Christmas carols. Her family is part of a non-profit that takes disabled children on pilgrimages to Lourdes in France, and they were raising funds by singing carols in a shopping center in London. It was all pretty fun (right up until I lost my voice) but the best part was when we were singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." We were about halfway through the song, and I looked up, and coming down the center of the shopping center was a flash mob of HUNDREDS of people dressed like Santa. They danced right up to us, gathered around and started singing along. It could not have been timed better. It was simply magical.

They passed out vouchers for free hugs from Santa with a website on it, so I looked it up and apparently it's an annual "Santacon" by, which just organizes flashmobs in London. Bring Santacon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Riiiight...who is this really?

At the dinner table the other day, one of the residents was wearing what could only be described as a COSBY SWEATAH. I asked him if he was familiar with Bill Cosby, and he wasn't, but neither was the coordinator who would have had much more opportunity to encounter him. And when I said that he was an American comedian, he took cheap shots, "There is such a thing?" It stung a little, because, I mean, you just don't take cheap shots at Bill Cosby, but also because he had absolutely no idea who he was, and that would never happen with someone his age down to mine in America. Being somewhere that doesn't know how they should say "Jell-o pudding pops" suddenly feels very lonely.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010 Day 7

I'm way behind on word count, and it took me three days to work out the Rube Goldberg device, but I finally killed the evil governor. Now I just have to get my main character down from the top of a burning fortress and introduce the evil governor's flamboyant brother, who is, of course, the real villain in this story. I don't really like my writing, but this year I have a lot better stuff that I can edit into the story taht I want to write when I'm not racing for word count.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Anglotopia article

I am now a columnist for, a blog for and by Anglophiles (Brit lovers). I had been hanging around the forums for a while and offered to write articles while I'm in Milton Keynes. My latest is about Camphill Milton Keynes, the community where I live and work. You can read it here My other articles can be found under "Dispatches from Milton Keynes" in the Columns...column.

I've been having some strange dreams as I get used to England. Last night I had two: the first involved me driving a semi-truck (I think they call them lorries here but that might just be pick-ups) through the streets, then, unable to stop it, drove through a hospital, up and down several flights of stairs, then back onto the road where I finally figured out that I was driving on the right hand side of the road and everyone was just being polite and getting out of my way. I was very careful going around the corners in the hospital before I realized that it was a dream and I didn't have to worry about crashing into anything with the trailer. In the dream just before I woke up, I dreamt that Camphill was having a raffle for coworkers, but they hadn't told any of the coworkers (I swear this would happen in real life. We learn about our trainings the morning of) and I showed up just in time to be the first winner...of a can of Diet Coke (This would never happen in real life. Camphill is all about healthy, organic food, at least in principle).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Foreginers love Rice Krispie Treats

I was going to make s'mores for my cultural presentation about America in my co-worker group (all of my co-workers in England are from different countries and I'm the only one from the US) but the American food stores didn't have Jet Puff Marshmallows, which is a problem because British marshmallows are too solid to get heated up in the middle when you roast them. So I used the marshmallows to make Rice Krispie treats. I was being silly and passed them around as "a delicacy from my country" but everyone was super impressed and wanted to know what I called them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thank the Queen for NHS!

I've been in England for a little over a month now. I've already been registered with NHS (I can do that because I'm a worker here), had a urine test, and got all my paperwork. Yesterday I got a call from the office about my test results, telling me I had a UTI, which I suspected, but it wasn't bothersome enough for me to go in on my own. During the same phone call, they told me that they had a prescription ready for me to pick up and take to get some antibiotics. I went the next day and walked away with a week's worth of antibiotics. Total cost to me: 0 pounds.

On the other side of the pond, I had been on a "reservation list" for Oregon Health Plan (health care for low income people) since February or March, kept calling in to see if I'd been "chosen," sent in an application without approval from the lottery, and got denied. Last week, my parents got a notice letting me know that I had been picked from the reservation list for OHP.

God bless America, and God save the Queen.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

London backvlog

When I arrived in London, my friend Dave picked me up and we had two days of mayhem before I went to Camphill

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sad news, Project 50 Redux: July and backvlog

I have some very sad news. My cat, Whiskers, died very suddenly and without apparent cause just before I moved out and came to England. It was the last thing I thought would happen right as I was about to take off on my big adventure, but I appreciated being able to lay her to rest with the friends who had been her family for much longer than I was. I miss her so very much. She was the most beautiful cat who slept next to me (if not on top of my head) every night. I could say something general about the loss of a pet, but I feel that would do an injustice to her memory, so I would just like you all to go hug your pets and tell them that you love them.

I've been lax in putting up my reviews because of moving, my cat dying and not feeling like it, going to England, being without internet, etc etc.

“That Takes Ovaries!:Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts” edited by Rivka Solomon
I found this while browsing the feminist section of the library. I feel like I’m constantly on my quest to figure out what kind of woman I want to be. This book definitely had a lot of ladies to live up to. There were tales of women who stood up to men and boys who rated their bodies. There were stories about ladies who risked their lives for what was right. One of my favorites was about a group of 50 women who raided a porn store. It was told by a woman who had survived incest by her father, who found a magazine with a young girl with a lollipop or something titled “Daddy’s Little Girl.” These ladies tore the place apart and escaped into the night. I cheered for them. A

“Being Single in a Couples’ World” by Xavier Amador and Judith Kiersky
There were parts of this that kind of opened my eyes to some things I’ve been wrestling with about being single, like wishing that I could land some guy that other people thought was a real catch. Except that all the people in the book would give up the pretty decent mates because there might be something better out there and I don’t really get that chance. It also opened my eyes to what bothers me about the “friendly fire” that I get for being nearly 26 and single. For example, I’m leaving for a year in England and at least three people, when they found out, said, “Bring back a man.” You know, in 5 years, I haven’t found one here, so what makes a person think that I’ll spend my time trying to get a lover over there? Grr. Anyways. Friendly fire. Even though the book was kind of helpful, I found the therapists’ retelling kind of annoying and insulting, because of course they ask their clients leading questions because they think they’ve got them all figured out. C+

"Papertowns" by John Green
The biggest criticism I have for this book is that it started out like a Babysitter's Club book...probably a major slam to the author of youtube fame (I heard of John Green through the vlog he does with his brother Hank, "vlogbrothers"). I was nearly ready to put it down, but after he finished pointing out the six or seven major players and best friends and other best friends, the book got much better. It turned into a story of teenage revenge, initiated by apparently unattainable Margo Roth Spiegelman, with apparently nerdy childhood friend Quinton coerced into the role of midnight chauffer. It's poetic, it's mean and at the end of the episode, you're left wondering if you're supposed to be cheering for Margo or squirming. Then the book takes a quick turn into a kind of scavenger hunt as Margo runs away from home, leaving behind clues to her whereabouts. This was the part that drove me to finish the book in a day: I love a good chase. The ending was a little post-modern and ambiguous for my tastes, but, you know, if you're into that kind of thing. It might help to know that one of John Green's favorite books is Catcher in the Rye. B-

"The Edge chronicles #2: Stormchaser" by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
The second in the series introduces the floating academic island of Sanctaphrax, chained to the working class city of Undertown. Twig is just setting out on his adventure with his recently discovered father as a member of the sky pirate's crew when a father/son conflict crops up, one that is brutally unfair to a boy raised in the woods. Before they can really resolve it, they are separated and the story focuses soley on Twig and the remaining crew. I liked the pace of this book a bit better than the first because while there was not a new perilous creature popping up every chapter, the story still did a lot of meaningful "meanwhile back at..." that kept it moving ahead and me very interested in how the stories were going to collide. B+

"The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1" by Michael Scott
I heard about this from someone involved in a youtube collaboration channel. It stood out to me because Nicholas Flamel was mentioned in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but on a quick search, I found a lot more to the myth of Nicholas Flamel. So it was a little strange to read this book and find one of the characters, a 15 year old boy with a twin sister, doing exactly the same thing, looking Nick Flamel up on Google. The book is thick with mythological references, almost stiflingly so, but familiar enough or explained enough that I was satisfied to have nothing but this book to read during three days of bussing back and forth to the Oregon Country Fair. A book of fantasy and magic is top notch reading when you're riding into the country to flit around in the woods with adults in fairy costumes. It sets the stage well for the first of a series. B

"Three Cups of Tea"
This book was not written by Greg Mortenson, which is positive in that it keeps him from tooting his own horn, but was disorienting when I started, thinking I would get a personal account from the man who trekked around Pakistan building schools for mountain villages. Nevertheless, it's an inspiring "get off your butt and do something" kind of story that I fully appreciate. I don't really like thinking of Mortenson, a guy who devoted himself to such a noble cause as a stressed out administrator, but trying to do good in the world is not always easy, and it's a reality check but not a deterrant to a young idealist like myself. There is another book about Mortenson's mission out there, and I would very much like to follow up on this account. A-

"The Edge Chronicles #3: Midnight Over Sanctaphrax" by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
With a brand spanking new crew, Twig sets out to find his father, stuck in the middle of the Mother Storm. They are united for just a few moments, then ripped apart once again. Twig falls conveniently close to Sanctaphrax, is conveniently spotted by the Professor of Darkness and is conveniently spared by the vulturous white ravens. After a brief delay wallowing in madness, Twig pulls himself together for a mission to recover his crew. At this point, Twig turns into an commanding captain, when I think he should still show a little bit of his boyhood meekness. I get a little bit wary of stories in which people refuse to stand down, and this makes others realize that the person deserves their respect. It's a little bit weak, but the overarching story continues to be quite good. B-

And here's the last vlog I made in America. Next: London

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I started a vlog

It's what the kids are doing these days. The channel is the same as my blog address. Crank up your sound to 11 because I have a really quiet voice.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Project 50 Redux: May, June Backlog

I'm sorry that I've been so lax in posting new book reviews. I feel like I haven't been reading very much at all, so it doesn't occur to me to write reviews.

"A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Austere Academy" by Lemony Snickett
I plugged along with this series even though I was getting kind of bored with it, but this book did not disappoint! There was an actual cliffhanger involving some new characters, two triplets at a boarding school to which the Baudeliere children are sent. I'll keep reading this series after all! A-

"A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Ersatz Elevator" by Lemony Snickett
I think the vocabulary in these books is getting more advanced as the series goes on. This was probably the first time since Book 2 that I was kind of afraid for the orphans' lives because the action was pretty intense, and the problem from the last book was still not resolved, so we'll be seeing the triplets again. B+

"Are All the Giants Dead?" by Mary Norton
This was one that I read out loud with one of my students that I watch after school/during the summer. It's kind of a fairy tale, except that it borrows characters from multiple fairy tales, ages them, and throws in a boy from modern times who gets to the fairy tale land apparently by way of a dream and a journalist guide. I found the story kind of wanting for new material, especially in the first part of the book. And of course, it's all a dream, so there's that old ending. C

"The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the Deepwoods" by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddle
This is another one that I read out loud with my student. It's nicely illustrated by Chris Riddle. Twig, raised by woodtrolls in the Deepwoods knows that he's not really a woodtroll. When he is 13, his mother tearfully tells him that she found him in the woods and raised him as her own, and that he needs to leave their home. On his journey to find his destiny, he runs into dangerous and wondrous races and creatures in the Deepwoods. What I liked and also disliked about this story was that EVERY chapter had him happening upon some other form of danger. The poor boy doesn't get a rest until the end when he finds out who he really is. It's a good start though, and there are several in this series that I'm going to keep trying to read. A-

"1984" by George Orwell
This was one of my favorite books in high school, especially because of the concept of Newspeak. I love how you can tell from the first sentence that something is just not right in this distopia. The story is thick with warnings about control of the media, control of the police, prescribed jobs and behavior. Upon rereading it, I could tell that Winston was doomed the whole time. If anyone has never read it, I kind of consider you a poor human being. In the 2008 election, the term "Orwellian" was used a lot by people who didn't get it, even from my own grandmother, who had never read Orwell. I found that really sad. It's a wonderful frightening book. A

Monday, July 12, 2010

You've got 12 hours to make me a very happy lady

I've recently become involved with the HP Alliance, a non-profit collaboration of Harry Potter fans from all over the world who band together to fight evil and injustice in the world. It's like Dumbledore's Army for real! We work towards improving literacy (collecting 55,000 books to send to underserved areas), campaigning for human rights, and recently raised $123,000 dollars to fill FIVE cargo planes full of supplies to Haiti after the earthquake. It's an incredible organization full of caring people who are committed to making significant changes in the world.

Right now we are entered in a contest to win $250,000 from Chase Giving. Even if you can't come to my super awesome birthday party, you can give me a great present by taking about 10 seconds to vote for HPA on Facebook so we can get some serious funding to do some serious good.

Here's a little video about HPA:

And here's the link that you need to vote. Thanks guys!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

All The Single Ladies (and single men)

I've been feeling the sting of being single a lot more lately. It's May, so wedding season is coming up, and my engaged webfriends are talking about their bridal showers and arguments with the DJ and the drama that their FHs and FMILs are making (that's "Future Husbands" and "Future Mother In Laws" for those of us who don't live in the world of family acronyms. First comes FH, then comes DH, then comes DD and DS in a BC.) At church, I am the only adult who is not married, much less with children. The pressures of marital roles don't apply to me, so I pretty much have nothing to talk about besides work and crafting and my cat, which just makes me sound like an old cat lady. At work, I'm the only single person who doesn't have kids. I haven't heard from many of my other married friends since fall.

I don't mind being single right now. I mean, I'm going to England for a year, and I'm really glad that I don't have to leave anyone behind. I just wish our kind were not so invisible in the world, the single non-parent. There's a Mother's Day, a Father's Day, wedding anniversaries, date nights, play dates, where those people receive praise and love and surprises because they've got the privilege of being attached to other people, but single people who live alone throw their own birthday parties. There's an Offbeat Bride site and an Offbeat Mama site, but an Offbeat Singles site would just be an online dating site for hippies and ex-punk rockers. I don't know how to have a good time as a single person since my friends moved away or got married because the only information out there for single people is how to get un-single. Maybe that's a plus but it's really not what I'm looking for.

I'm glad I'm not going to a big church right now because this is how it would work: If you're single, 1. something is wrong with you and you need to go to the meat market group to get un-single, and 2. while you're at it, you've got nothing better to do with your time than to serve the married people and parents so they can get a much deserved break. I liked hanging out with middle schoolers then and I hang out with high schoolers now, but the pressure and obligation for single people to take care of other people's kids while they go get their spiritual fix is intense.

I don't think that most married people recognize the special needs and internal struggle of single people (looking or not), or the way we get excluded from the common experience of home life and children. I'm reading a book about singleness and how we get unhappy with being single because of our marriage script. From youth we mark off an age at which we would like to be married. For me, I passed that marker on my last birthday, nearly four years since the end of my last relationship. My mother was 28 when she got married, and I feel like if I get there, it's all over. I watched my four older cousins marry at increasingly younger ages, so now I feel like it's my turn. We get an idea of the kind of person we want to marry. I wanted (and it's really common for people who are shy and insecure to get this idea) someone that other people thought was just the coolest, so they would be jealous and wonder how someone like me could land someone so great. I want children more than I want to be a wife, and with every new year, I feel like that chance is being taken farther from me. I wish there was a way that married or engaged people could learn to be more...considerate? That's not the word I'm looking for...just more aware of all that we go through.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Project 50 Redux: April

“A Scanner Darkly” by Philip K Dick
This was a good, gritty, slightly futuristic book about drugs and drug investigation and where they meet in one man. As the main character’s brain gets more damaged by Substance D, his sense of himself as one person dissolves, and he starts to see himself as a separate person from two different points of view. The only thing that I think keeps it from being a really good book is that it goes on for just a few chapters too long. When I came to the part that I thought was a good stopping point, I was disappointed to find more and it kind of ruined the ending for me, and really didn’t add anything more to the story. B-

I also read “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix again. Did I really only read one new book this month? I’m slipping.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Project 50 Redux: March

“Schuyler’s Monster: a Father’s Journey with His Wordless Daughter” by Robert-Rummel Hudson
Schuyler (pronounced Sky-ler, I couldn’t make myself think that through the whole book) is the author’s daughter, who was born with a brain deformity that caused her to be unable to speak. The family spent several years just trying to get a name for her condition, which the author calls “the monster.” Even though he emphasizes his daughter’s fascination with movie monsters and how much he loves her even though she is different, I have to admit that I was pretty uncomfortable with him calling her condition a “monster”. I did like to read about her parents championing for her to get what she needed in school, despite doubting speech therapists and penny pinching school bureaucrats. I’ve read a lot of book by parents of children with autism, but this one was really interesting to me because I’m particularly interested in working with children who are non-verbal. A-

“A Child Called ‘It’” by Dave Pelzer
I saw Dave Pelzer speak a few days after I graduated high school, a few days after I’d broken up with my high school boyfriend, who was abused by his father-figure and wallowed in it. I remember that trying to express what Pelzer had overcome in himself to survive against a veritable Eeyore fortress was frustrating. I’d never read the full account of the inhumane abuse he endured as a child, singled out from his brothers as his mother’s scapegoat, narrowly escaping death sometimes by pure will not to let her win. It makes me admire him as a person so much more now. This book is not light reading. It’s horrible to think that a parent could torture a child so much. I think that it’s important for people to know these things though, especially people who plan to become parents or for people who work with children, to repel that evil-ness away from their relationships with children and to recognize signs of child abuse. A

“Wicked” by Gregory Maguire
This novel is based on The Wizard of Oz, but follows the birth and life of Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West. Elphaba is born with green skin, to a mother who cheats and an ultra-pious father. She is sent away to school where she meets Galinda and a troop of other characters with “Wizard” connections like a Munchinlander and a Winkie prince. Following a violent incident at school, Elphaba leaves and gets involved in a conspiracy, things go wrong there, she leaves, and eventually she owns the role of Wicked Witch of the West. I felt like I was maybe supposed to feel sympathetic towards Elphaba, but she was so bitter and closed off, without any real hidden gems of virtue in her at all, that I never did like her. But I never got fond of Galinda either, because she was so shallow. I kind of felt the story did a bait and switch with Elphaba’s love life, and I didn’t understand why the author chose that character for her lover. It was interesting to see where this alternate story lined up with the Wizard of Oz sometimes, and sometimes it was overwrought. It’s good, but had some flaws as a story. B-

I also read “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” again this month.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Project 50 Redux: February

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
This is a graphic novel-style non-fiction memoir by a woman who grew up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Her parents were Communists and many of their friends were targeted and imprisoned or killed. She grew up with a fervor for knowledge and a gutsy stick-it-to-the-man attitude, encouraged by her parents, which got her into trouble when she questioned the rewritten history she was taught in school after the change in government. To be honest, I have little knowledge of Iranian political history, so in some parts of the book I just had to take her word for it, which was sometimes hard because it was written in the style of the age the author was at the time. I think it was interesting to have the combined perspectives of 1. a woman in 2. a liberal family in 3. a Middle Eastern country with its share of political and religious conflict. B+

“Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” by Susanna Clarke

This book really held my attention well considering that not much action actually happened for most of the book. It is the tale of two English magicians, the only two “practical magicians” in England, at the time of King George III. To keep the story moving along, the author finds ways of weaving new characters into a deep-held secret that only Mr. Norrell and the reader really understand for most of the story. Even though it’s an 800+ page book, I never really found myself bored because I got invested in the separate storylines that were sometimes close together and sometimes almost unrelated, and sometimes tied to actual events in history. Characters from previous parts of the story kept popping back up and knitting the storylines back together. I wasn’t all that satisfied with the way that the story ended because I felt like it should have been more finished, but the rest of it was so involved I felt like I was actually in the time period. A-

“Artemis Fowl” by Eoin Colfer
The premise of the book really put me off. Artemis Fowl is a young genius and heir to the fortune of a crime family which has lost its partriarch. He’s twelve and is just too brilliant and too cocky for my liking. I just don’t like books in which children are given more autonomy than they are supposed to have. He cooks up a plan that involves kidnapping a fairy soldier (I’ll admit that the rewriting of folklore into a “what humans think they know but don’t” mythology was pretty clever) and holding her for ransom, negotiating with the supernatural military for her release, pretending to want something that he doesn’t… oh it was all too contrived for a twelve year old. Maybe it would be more fun for someone who actually is twelve or younger, but I’m not buying it. C-

“The Ride Together: a Brother and Sister’s Memoir of Autism in the Family” by Judy Karasik and Paul Karasik
This book was co-written by the brother and sister of a man with autism. The sister writes in normal chapters, and the brother delivers his experience in graphic novel style, which worked especially well in some parts because of his brother’s interest in Superman. I especially liked it because the brother with autism was older than both of them, so they don’t tell much about his childhood, but mostly the family’s experiences bouncing him around to different group homes as an adult and his visits home during vacations or transitions. One transition near the end of the book was hard to read about because it came about when the facility was shut down because of abuse of residents by the caretakers. It spoke to me as a person who works with people with disabilities to say never, ever take advantage of a situation in which you are the person in power. A-

“Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” by Robert C. O’Brien
I think the last time I read this book I was in the fourth grade. It’s a little bit magical to read something that you thought you knew as a kid. I didn’t remember all the action in the story happening within just a few days, but that was probably because my class read the story over several weeks with vocabulary and comprehension sheets in between. The way the rats build up their civilization is so imaginative and complete, I can really see why this book was a Newberry Award Winner. A-

Monday, February 8, 2010

Project 50 Redux: January

I’m still working through “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which is an 800+ page monster, so I haven’t had time for much else.

"Coraline" by Neil Gaiman
I saw the movie before I read the book, and honestly…I liked the movie better. I felt like the book moved too fast without all the other extra things that the movie put in. As a book alone, it’s ok, but I didn’t get all that attached to Coraline even. C+

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Project 50: December

The year ended with a total of 56 books read. I could increase my goal to 60, but honestly, I think trying to read more than a book a week would make reading less enjoyable, and that's why I read, so I'm sticking with 50 books a year.
“Adopting on Your Own: The Complete Guide to Adoption for Single Parents” by Lee Varon
I thought that this book was really balanced and thorough. It’s written by a woman who adopted internationally, a toddler from Guatemala in her 30s and a 4 year old from Russia 14 years later. She really encourages singles considering adoption to examine themselves and their reasons for adopting, their abilities to support a child, what age and sex of child they want to adopt and why, whether they want to adopt internationally, domestically, through a private agency, through a state agency. She freely admits that adoption is not for everyone, not even for some couples, and prints testimonies from singles who had success in their adoption, trials, or who finally decided not to go through with it. It gave me a lot to think about. A

“The Skull of Truth” by Bruce Coville

Bruce Coville was one of my favorite authors as a kid. This book is in a serious of Magic Shop Books that includes “Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher” and “Jennifer Murdley’s Toad.” Charlie “accidentally” steals a skull from a mysterious magic shop which talks to him in his head and causes Charlie, a compulsive liar, to always tell the truth. Hijinx ensue. There are a couple of parts that are fairly typical for Coville, in which children have a lot more influence over adults than they would have in real life. It works for children’s literature, but might not appeal to all adults. I think that the origin story that Coville invents for the skull is particularly clever (hint: the skull’s name is Yorick), and could encourage kids to branch out into more advanced literature. B+

“Watching the English” by Kate Fox

This book is a sociological study of English behavior, written by a native Englishwoman who spent part of her childhood in France and America. I don’t know that it’s fair for a native to examine her own people, and I don’t think that she gives enough of a big picture for the causes of what she calls “social dis-ease.” It’s interesting enough, and kind of comical to read her describe things like awkward English greetings where no one knows whether to shake hands, kiss French style, or just give a nod of the head. However, it gets really repetitive and when she does not want to admit that not everyone adheres to the social rules she prescribes, she just says that they are the exception that proves the rule. Kind of a cop-out, I think. B-

“Rite of Passage: Tales of Backpacking ‘Round Europe” edited by Lisa Johnson
There were a real diversity of stories in here. Stories of love, stories of getting ripped off, stories of the kind you just have to tell when it comes up. I thought that some of the stories could have used a little more editing and some were really inconsequential, but it was an all right collection. B-