Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bread and butter

It’s a good thing I don’t write for a living.  You know, those people who say, “I sit down to write at 7 AM and don’t stop until 5 PM” – they write for a living.  There is nothing to focus the mind like needing to earn your daily bread.  I am only writing here tonight because I am putting off doing the FAFSA and collecting my aunt’s tax documents and working on some statistical analysis that I don’t want to do.  And this isn’t even really writing, so much as it is relaying some recent conversations.

One night my husband asked me if I wanted to go out to see a movie. But that night I was feeling vulnerable, as I do half the time now, and wanted to stay home.
Me:   Let’s just watch something at home tonight.

Husband:  Okay.  Want to watch Blood Devil of the Amazon?

* * * * * *

One morning at breakfast, I read the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution to my husband, because that’s morning reading material now.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

My husband pointed out that the meaning of the word “unreasonable” is undefined.

Me:   It’s the job of judges to interpret the meaning.  We still have legally appointed judges.

Husband:  Who do you think butters their bread?  We need to start taking sandwiches to those judges.

Me:  But what kind of sandwiches? If we took, say, watercress sandwiches, it could backfire.

Actually I have been writing quite a bit – to my senators and representative, and even to one judge.  Fat lot of good it will do, but my writing has always been about self-expression, not results. Or earning daily bread. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

First lines: January 2017 edition

St custard's

I only finished four books this month. 

Book 1
I may have found a solution to the Wife Problem.  As with so many scientific breakthroughs, the answer was obvious in retrospect.  But had it not been for a series of unscheduled events, it is unlikely I would have discovered it.

Book 2
On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, about half way between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel.  Deferential palms cool its flushed façade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach.

Book 3
Stella Montgomery lay hidden behind the ferns in the conservatory of the Hotel Majestic, flat on the mossy tiles, tracing a path through the Amazon jungle in a small, damp atlas.  She skirted around a vague outcrop of some kind – possibly mildew – and continued upriver.
Stella wiped some water drops off the map and read,…. Serpents forty feet long and capable of swallowing considerable quadrupeds, such as hares, goats, deer &c.  There was a picture of such a serpent in the margin. Stella studied it wistfully.  It looked large enough to swallow an elephant, and had a hungry expression.  A serpent of that size could swallow a person, an Aunt for example, as easy as your hand.  Several Aunts, probably.  It looked sufficiently hungry.  The people who lived in the Amazon jungle would not be bothered by Aunts.
            After eating, they lie torpid for several weeks.  Stella imagined the enormous serpent sleeping off a dinner of three Aunts.  Aunt Condolence for starters, Aunt Temperance for next, and then Aunt Deliverance for pudding.  There would be three big lumps in the sleeping serpent.

Book 4
 ‘O.K. Come In’
This is me e.g. nigel molesworth the curse of st custard’s which is the skool i am at.  It is utterly wet and weedy as i shall (i hope) make clear but of course that is the same with all skools.
            e.g. they are nothing but kanes, lat. french, geog. hist. algy, geom, headmasters, skool dogs, skool sossages, my bro molesworth 2 and MASTERS everywhere.
            The only good things about skool are the BOYS wiz who are noble brave fearless etc. although you hav various swots, bulies, cissies, milksops greedy guts and oiks with whom I am forced to mingle hem-hem.
            In fact any skool is a bit of a shambles
                        AS YOU WILL SEE.

And here are the titles/authors.

Book 1
The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
I read this for book club.  There were many humorous moments. My favorite scene was when two characters are in a ritzy scarf shop and judge which scarf goes with which of their colleagues and friends.  But I couldn’t shake the idea that I shouldn’t be laughing, given the situation. 

Book 2
Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
For book discussion at the women’s retreat.  The discussion was one of the few good parts of the retreat for me.  I can’t say that I liked this book tremendously, but I am glad I read it.  Fitzgerald’s prose is excellent. He uses words like “autochthonous.”  The narrative viewpoints were interesting to me.  It turns out that rich Americans running around Europe in the 1930s have problems, too.  Big problems.  My alternate title for this book is “White People Frolic on the Beach In France and Annoy Each Other.” 

Book 3
Withering by Sea, by Judith Rossell (children’s lit)
This book has Three Horrible Aunts, a wicked magician, children with special powers, and educated cats.  It was pleasant to read children’s literature.

Down With Skool! by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle
This book!  My father spent a large part of his childhood at a British boarding school in the foothills of the Himalayas.  The stories he told us of his time at Woodstock School are borne out in this orthographically challenged exposé of St. Custard’s, the boarding school where one Nigel Molesworth attends.  I suppose not many could tolerate reading this book: every other word is misspelled and the punctuation is atrocious.  But I find it highly amusing and makes me think fondly of my Dad.  The drawings by Ronald Searle are brilliant.  This book is hard to obtain – I had to send to Britain for it.  If you want to read it you will have to come over and look at my copy.  Reading it will not edify you. As any fule kno.

Masters:  Know the Enemy

What have you all been reading lately?