Bold Fortune

fortune favors the bold

Age appropriate

by mollykl

Son j is reading The Island of the Blue Dolphins for class. He’s in fourth grade, and they are all reading it together – two chapters in class each day, and one chapter at home. Husband J and I were thrilled that he’d get to read it and excitedly told him how great it is and that he is so lucky.

Yeah, that was all well and good until he gets to the point where otters, his favorite animal by the way, are killed and skinned. He was inconsolable. We dealt with it the best way we could, and we think he understands what we were saying, or at least trying to say. The whole thing’s been on my mind a lot today.

On my lunch I used Google to see if any other parents had advice or reactions. You know what I got? I got “why is this book being read by such young children!” “this book is too violent for this grade”.

Last night at the dinner table Husband J, when asked about his day, said that he had trainings, one of which was an “active shooter” training. Son j asked what that was and we had to tell him, our 9 year old, that he does active shooter trainings every year and has since first grade. He asked, “Oh, is that the one where we have to hide and keep very very quiet?”  He didn’t really understand why they had to do it, but he knew it was important. We felt the “why” of that one was best left till he is older.

My kid sees practicing response for a shooting as normal, but you’re worried that a story of survival that is a freakin’ Newbery Medal winner is too violent. For that matter as children my generation had to practice the stupid and utterly worthless “dunk and cover” (newsflash, we were surrounded by three Air Force bases, in case of nuclear attack, that desk was not going to be much help.)

Yes, he’s upset about the otters being killed. Good for him. He’s not a sociopath. You know how I’m going to keep it that way? I’m going to have him continue to read books that challenge him, and make him feel, and make him question.

 

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Harriet Vane

by mollykl

I honestly have no idea how many books I’ve read so far in my life. Oh, I take those “How many of these great books have you read?” tests online (here’s a hint: not as many as you’d think) for fun, but at the end of the day I’m not worried about adding to my “great books read” list – I’m just looking for the next thing to read.

I firmly believe that if you’re a reader you are, in fact, a conglomeration of all you’ve read, of every hero, villain, personality quirk, vicarious experience and life that you’ve absorbed, the good and the bad. I am all that I have read.

Of course if you’re a reader you have favorites. Mine are Phryne Fisher, Julia Grey-Brisbane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Elizabeth Bennet, Irene Adler, Barbara Gordon (Oracle), Meg Murray O’Keefe and Amelia Peabody Emerson, just to name a few. But if I had to pick just one, it would be…

Harriet Vane.

She of claret gowns and scholar’s robes. She’s quiet, unassuming, fucking brilliant and her marriage to Peter is an unintended foreshadowing of the approaching class-crisis in England. She has the brains of Oracle, the self-preservation of Irene Adler, the stubbornness of Julia Brisbane, the drive of Phryne Fisher…well, I could go on.

Yeah I know, I’m none of those things, but…I am…a little. And a little is all that’s needed.

I don’t read to impress you. I read to learn, to grow, and to experience. I’ve found that as long as I can form an emotional attachment to a character I’m able to do just that.

So tell me, who are you?

5 things that are great about being an only child

by mollykl

A news story was just on talking about the growing childhood obesity problem in China, and mentioned that the “one child” policy is part of the problem. The reporter then went on to list all of the problems with only children.

I was sooooo glad that my only child son got to sit there and listen to everything that someone else thinks is wrong with him (none of which had anything to do with childhood obesity in China).

There are advantages and disadvantages to everything. We call that life. Son j had to sit and listen to a stranger list that he’s self centered, risk-adverse, lonely, lacking in empathy and non -competitive. (He is actually risk-adverse).

So as a counterbalance to all the negative he heard this morning, here I present the list of things that are good about being a single child:

  1. I don’t lose my mind. Really, I can barely handle the one child I’ve got, you think I could handle two?
  2. Empathy. I don’t know where the news story got their information about only children lacking empathy, or maybe they’ve never met the children I know. It’s probably not a coincidence that two of son j’s favorite literary heroes are only children and both are a bit odd, but both have helped to teach him about standing up for others and reserving judgement.
  3. Less competition, and I don’t mean of the good kind. I have a younger sister who’s prettier, smarter and cooler than I am. I wouldn’t wish that kind of competition on anyone. Son j will not grow up feeling like he never quite measures up.
  4. No “built in friends”. Son j doesn’t have a constant companion. When he makes friends he has to actually go out and put some effort in to the process.
  5. Amazing imagination. After the video games are done he’s on his own with his books and art supplies and imagination. He writes stories and tells them to us and acts them out. His solitude has meant that he has a better daily word count than I do. (Something he’s quite proud of). I’m thinking of signing him up for nanowrimo.

I still, at 47, get comments about when I’m going to give son j a sibling. People, I’m 47, that ship has sailed. We never intended to have more children. We’re quite content with the one we’ve got. I wouldn’t trade my sister for anything (although if given the chance I might sell her), but I also don’t think Husband J had less of a childhood because he was an only child.

You know what makes a childhood? Being a child. Period. As adults how about we stop judging and let kids be kids?

My 10 favorite foods

by mollykl

1. cassoulet

2. misir wot from Queen of Sheba

3. kansas city barbecue pork sausage from Nugget Market

4. chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, mine, recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

5. roasted asparagus

6. corn on the cob

7. pesto, on anything

8. duck confit, ditto

9. spaghetti carbonara, mine, recipe courtesy Seventeen Magazine circa 1984

10. bacon (but not “bacon…anything else” no bacon salt, no bacon chocolate, no bacon mustard. just bacon)

The 5 best quotes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that will make your day better

by mollykl

Oy. You know what’s awesome about a bad day? The chance to make it better and realize that you survived said bad day. In my case this involved the series finale episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – one of my go-to bad day cure-alls.

So in honor of Ms Summers and the feminist icon that she is (kicks ass, takes no shit, still not afraid to like girly-clothes and shoes) I present the 5 best quotes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that will make your day better. Thank you Joss Whedon.

  1. Giles:  God, every day here is the same. Buffy: Bright, sunny, beautiful. However can we escape this torment?
  2. Giles: I’m just going to stay and clean up a little. I’ll be back in the Middle Ages. Jenny: Did you ever leave?
  3. [Willow brings Buffy, who is in hospital, her homework] Buffy: Homework. Willow: It’s my way of saying get well soon. Buffy: You know, chocolate says that even better. Willow: I did all your assignments. All you have to do is sign your name. Buffy: Chocolate means nothing to me.
  4. Angelus: No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what’s left? Buffy: Me.
  5. Buffy: So here’s the part where you make a choice. What if you could have that power, now? In every generation, one Slayer is born, because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule. I say my power, should be *our* power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of this scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer, will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?

5 words I’m removing from my vocabulary

by mollykl

Effective immediately I’m removing the following 5 words from my vocabulary.

I. Am. Done.

I realize I’ve been using most of them as a form of false modesty (let’s be realistic, I know I’m not stupid), but using them at all isn’t doing me any favors. I mean really, if I can’t stand up for myself, to myself, who can I stand up for?

Say goodbye:

5. Fat – What the hell does this word accomplish unless you’re making a salad dressing or a marinade?

4. Ugly – So I don’t ascribe to the accepted norm of beauty – that doesn’t make me ugly. What it does make me is appreciative of all forms of beauty.

3. Bitch – I will stop referring to myself as a bitch simply because I am calling you out on your shit.

2. Stupid – I love my friend K because whenever I say “Oh my God I’m so stupid” and she hears it she gets angry and says, “Don’t say that about my friend.” It’s a little thing but it reminds me that the crap I wouldn’t put up with being said about a friend I will gladly heap on myself. And, come on, we all know I’m fucking brilliant.

1.Sorry – I’m tired of apologizing all the time. I’m not sorry, I’m learning. I’m not sorry, I have something to say. I’m not sorry, I’m standing up for myself. I’m not sorry, I want service. I’m not sorry for my existence. I am sorry that it took me this long to figure that out. But I won’t say it out loud.

10 authors I think you should read

by mollykl

No, I don’t know everything, but yes, I do know some authors. Trust me, you’ll be better off having read these.

1. Madeleine L’Engle. She might sound familiar to you for A Wrinkle In Time (which, not coincidentally frequently finds itself on the list of most banned books). I’m a particular fan of An Acceptable Time (the culmination of the time series) and A House Like A Lotus (which was actually my first exposure to M.L. )

2. Jane Austen. Oh come on, you knew this had to be on the list. Just read Pride and Prejudice. You won’t be sorry. If you’re one of the guys I work with who think Jane’s either too far above you/beneath you? Just read, and do everything D’Arcy does. Trust me. And then thank me.

3. Ian Fleming. Read the books. No, don’t say, “but I’ve seen the movies!”. Read. The. Books.

4. David Quammen. Want to know a little of the world you live in? Read David Quammen. The guy explains natural science in a way that any idiot can understand (and that’s this idiot’s opinion). You’ll have a better understanding of the natural world and a greater appreciation for the fact that you’re still alive in it.

5. J.G. Ballard. I’m a huge fan of The Drowned World, which is classified as sci-fi, but is really more about the psychological breakdown of the human mind. Also, it’s a chilling reminder that we never truly escape certain moments of our past – we just keep reliving them. (Oh, and please note that it’s about global warming – 50 years before there was such a notion as global warming)

6. Dorothy Sayers. What can’t that woman do? Her translation of The Divine Comedy is one of the most accessible ever done – it makes Dante’s concepts understandable (a feat, since most translators focus of the poetry rather and the context). Oh, and as mentioned to a couple of college guys I knew in 1987 who thought that Lord Peter was a bit of a ponce, “Hello, dumbasses? these girls are telling you, in detail, what they want. Shouldn’t you be taking notes or something?”

7. Mark Twain. The moment in Hucklberry Finn when Huck says, “alright then, I’ll go to hell” because he’s willing to sacrifice his soul just to be friends with Jim is probably the greatest moment in American literature we’ve ever seen. At some point, with luck, the country will realize it.

8. Robert Browning. Just read My Last Duchess. Read it several thousand times. I think I have. It’s beautiful and frightening and beautiful.

9. Antony Beevor . Stalingrad The Fateful Siege was a Valentine’s Day present from husband J. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…most girls get flowers or jewelry I get a book about 500,000 people dying in the freezing fucking cold). But it wa one of the best presents I ever got and one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read.

10. Arturo Perez Reverte. The Club Dumas is amazing. No. Do not watch the movie version. I don’t care of Johnny Depp was in it. It is awful and has NO RELATION to the movie. Oh, and pay close attention to Irene. Also, it helps if you’ve read Milton first, but is not essential. In hindsight, having seen Sherlock would help also. You’ll understand after you read. If you don’t, give me a call and we’ll have a drink and I’ll expound. At length.

If you feel like commenting add your two cents and tell me who I need to be reading.10 authors I think you

5 things I learned from Batman: The Animated Series

by mollykl

1. Never underestimate a girl (see: Barbara Gordon/Batgirl)

2. The aesthetics of the 1920’s never loses it’s charm.

3. Never underestimate a woman (see: Talia Al-Ghul, Zatana, Selina Kyle/Catwoman)

4. You can never go wrong with red lipstick and black eyeliner.

5. Did I mention never underestimate a woman?

My 12 favorite things about Sacramento

by mollykl

1.  The American River Bike Trail

2. the weather (yes, even when it’s 105 and I’m melting)

3. Tule fog

4. Delta breezes

5. the Sacramento River

6. the American River

7. laid back attitude for a capital city

8. the California State Fair at Cal Expo

9. Old Sacramento at Christmastime

10. McKinley Park/ Land Park/ Southside Park/Oki Park

11. fishing for Steelhead on the American River

12. mix of political opinions

A month of lists redux ad infinitum

by mollykl

August in Sacramento used to be hell. Seriously. 105 degrees, the local news doing the obligatory “cooking eggs on the sidewalk” story, you’d actually feel sorry for the rattlesnakes kind of hell.  This summer has been following suit but who knows what the next few weeks will bring. As in past years it might indeed be too hot to think. So once again I present to you an entire month of lists. Some will be repeats, because, really, my favorite literary theorists have not changed. Some will be new, some will be serious, most will be frivolous.

Sit back, relax, pour yourself a drink, and enjoy.