Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Stuff I've been reading

I'm supposed to be working. But instead, I have just three words to contribute:

Jane Eyre rocks.

I love the girl. I don't know why. I don't know how this novel managed to get under my skin for the last five years or so, but I've been moving around from place to place with a swiped copy I picked up when I was teaching an ACT prep class in grad school. Meleena had mentioned it casually in conversation a few times, and since I couldn't take the idea of her knowing the book and me not, I tried reading it. Over and over again.

For all its mystery and allure, Charlotte Bronte had to have written the most boring opening to a novel in the history of Good English Novels. Exhibit A:
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.
Here, my brow usually furrowed and my attention started to wander. I would remember that I had a copy of a Richard Stark novel waiting to be read. I would wonder if The Merchant of Venice didn't bear rereading. I would remember Elle McPherson had a role in Zifferli's film version of the novel, and maybe I could get away with just reading that. No no, I would think, shaking it off. This is good literature. This is what your students hear all the time--it won't kill you to put yourself in their shoes. Read, damn you. Read!
I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.

That was as far as I got until 2003. At that point, I made it about a third through. I only finished the damned thing, start to completion, about a week ago. How can you not like it? Insanity, abused children, forbidden romance, exile, sacrifice, redemption? All lost because I couldn't get past that walk. I'm loathe to discuss it at length--is it possible that an itinerant web-surfer will latch onto this post, become immediately inspired and search out a copy for him/herself?

No way. Because I had to go and put that boring first page up. Try this on for size:
"Wicked and cruel boy!" I said. "You are like a murderer -- you are like a slave-driver -- you are like the Roman emperors!"

...[George, her abusive cousin] ran headlong at me: I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder: he had closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him a tyrant, a murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood from my head trickle down my neck, and was sensible of somewhat pungent suffering: these sensations for the time predominated over fear, and I received him in frantic sort. I don't very well know what I did with my hands, but he called me "Rat! Rat!" and bellowed out aloud.
Now that'swhat I'm talking about. Kick the fat kid's butt, Jane!

If that doesn't do it, I don't know what will.
Enough is enough. I went to the doctor. I asked him about my back.

I felt like a kid going through the whole ordeal. Yes, it was an ordeal. I had to call my personnel office, find out how to use my insurance (since I've never used it before), find a doctor in the area covered by my plan, Mapquest the location, drive out there, fill out forms, wait in a waiting room littered with kiddie toys and Teen People Magazine (did you know Justin Timberlake was a Mouseketeer? You did? Wanker) and then sit around in a room for another ten minutes only to have my pulse and BP taken, and walk on my tiptoes for the good doctor, when he finally deigned to show up.

He's sending me to get x-rayed. Then I start physical therapy. Yippee. The last time I went through it was when my brother mercilessly crushed my leg with a schoolbus. That time, it was arduous, but doable. I was fifteen. I was an athlete. I could do anything.

Now I'm 31. I have a back problem. And I have papers to grade.

The long road to recovery is bound to have a few bumps in it. But I didn't know there wouldn't be a rest stop for the next hundred miles.

(That's a crappy analogy. I need a better one.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dumb Internet links for a Saturday morning when I should be working:

Fair Education Foundation: http://www.fixedearth.com. According to today's Times, Representative Chisum of Texas argued that evolution is a Rabbinical text-inspired theory, and therefore should not be taught in school. He must have missed the news about Einstein and relativity.

Challenge Blasphemy: http://www.challengeblasphemy.com. Youtube has had a series of videos challenging God's existence, in essence preaching to a largely stupor-addled and torpid crowd. In response, a police officer in Virginia responds in kind, in essence preaching to a largely self-righteous and placid in the face of logic crowd. Boooring.

Ratpure Alert: http://www.rapturealert.com. The police officer mentioned above is "sounding the alert that Jesus Christ is coming soon." Reminds me of a bumper sticker my neighbor had: "If the Rapture is coming, somebody grab my steering wheel!" (No rapture, but he did have to move when he couldn't pay his rent.)

The Half Hour News Hour: http://youtube.com/watch?v=YjIfaMwIFxU. Described as a "Daily Show for Conservatives," which means they've already lost the battle. They have to borrow from the enemy. Reviews have universally panned the show, and Variety points out, rightfully, that the left-leaning media bashes whoever's in the White House, left or right.

Dudeism: http://www.dudeism.com. Via Tso (who else?). Tso, get back to work.