Wednesday, September 20, 2006

If I Were Queen of the World . . .

. . . you would all be reading The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Alan Jacobs, which is as enchanting a biography as I've read since The Woman and the Dynamo: Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America by Stephen Cox. Because, you see, that is where my tyranny and absolute authority would bubble to the surface. I do not want the tiaras and palaces and courtiers -- I want a bookclub draft, wherein I decide what gets read, and then people have to sit with me (I'll serve tea and some sort of delectable -- it will be a benevolent dictatorship) and discuss the books with me until I get them out of my system. That would save me a heck of a lot of writing, since the only way I can get these books off of the brain is to sit and write out long-winded reviews.

I am so much more the reader than the writer. I jump from one lovely book to the next, with scarcely a breath drawn between. Of course, this rampant bibliophily means that too few of the books that feed my soul get their own "writing out" day in the sun. For instance, I have lately been enamored of the books of Thornton Wilder. I read a trio of his that inspired awe in me for their sheer divergency and, yet, uniform excellence. I wanted to shout out to the world that these three novels were worthy of resurfacing in public acclaim, and I desired to ignite a discussion of how one author could write in so varied a manner; but, even so, they have gone unreviewed, unacknowledged and unseen in the archives of my many blogs. Now, they won't leave me alone -- they are like little ghost children hanging about me, tugging on my sleeves and hems, crying plaintively for a "writing out." But, I have read too many books since then, that I could not do them justice right now. (They are, for those of piqued interest, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Heaven's My Destination, and The Ides of March.)

The same could be said for Stephen Cox's more recent book, The New Testament and Literature, which is a rich, satisfying journey through literary patterns that unite the writings of the New Testament with much of the subsequent literature produced by Western Civilization, both by Christian and non-Christian writers. This book filled me so full by the end of the first read, that I had to let it sink in a bit and read its cited sources before attempting a second read-through. I'm currently in that second read-through (concurrently with The Narnian), and I'm getting even more out of the text this time. Yet, I somehow know that at the end of it all, it too will fade before its just written examination, because I'll be off and running on another literary quest.

It is the frustration of my life that I cannot find just one person with whom I can read all things at the same time. Someone with similar tastes and a well-informed mind who can, at the same time, bring a diverse history of digested literature to the table that complements but does not copy mine would be ideal and lead to lively discussion and an enhanced reading experience. My poor husband has to hear an earful about books he'll never even want to read every night, simply because I cannot keep my mouth from yammering out all of the thoughts that are racing through my head. I've been in bookclubs before, but the tyrant in me cannot abide by some of the lame choices I've wallowed through when it was another member's turn to choose the title.

Okay, I'm not such a prig as that previous paragraph makes me out to be. As I was reading it over, I felt, all of a sudden, like Kim Jong Il in Team America, singing, "I'm Ronery." The thing is not that I cannot find people who are well-read and highly informed and far more intelligent (or, as Kim Jong Il might say, "interrigent") than I. Frankly, that describes most of my friends. It's just that no one has the time or inclination to ride with me on this wild, breathless journey -- hopping from book to book like a two-bit whore. Hmmm . . . the imagery there went from epic to vulgar in 2.5 seconds. This is what happens when it is 2 AM and you're sitting in front of your computer, lamenting the fact that you just read an amazing insight in a C.S. Lewis biography and have no one at all with whom you can revel in its artistry.

I apologize for the rambling. Back to The Narnian for me! Maybe I'll write about it later. Maybe not. So far, it is excellent.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Walk4US: September 23, 2006

I'm so excited about a new opportunity to help unborn children that I just learned about at church on Sunday. It's called Ride4Us (Ride For Ultrasound), and it is a day where people can choose to ride bicycles, run, or walk to raise money to put an ultrasound machine in a local crisis pregnancy center. This year's beneficiary is the Gig Harbor Care Net Pregnancy Center.

Jason and I no longer have our bikes, and I certainly cannot run fives miles straight(not to mention Sadie), so we're going to be "trekking 4 toddlers." I'm hoping we can raise a few hundred dollars in pledges to help this group reach their goal of $40,000. This is such a practical way to give help and show love for unborn babies and their mothers.

Here is a paragraph from Ride4US's site that explains the importance of getting ultrasounds into crisis pregnancy centers:

The life-giving and life-changing impact of ultrasounds are astonishing: in 2005, CPC of Pierce County performed 530 first-trimester ultrasounds for women considering their options. Upon seeing tiny, little fingers and toes, 507 women (96%) chose to bring a baby into the world surrounded by Care Net's loving network of support (counseling, medical care, maternity homes, daycare and adoption services). CPC's network provides care for as long as support is needed.

What's more, should we finish our walk in a timely manner, I'm hoping to run across the northern border (in our car, that is) and attend
a benefit concert for a crisis pregnancy center in British Columbia that night. So, September 23, 2006 will be a day for the babies.

Any prayers you could throw our way would be greatly appreciated. The walk won't be difficult physically to complete, but we need prayers to help us raise pledge money, considering we found out about this on such short notice. Thank you!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Pesky Possessives

Today on Comcast's home page I saw this headline:

Paris' DUI Pinch a Boost to Party Image
By SANDY COHEN, AP Entertainment Writer

Now, leave alone the fact that this is a headline about that great icon of inanity, Paris Hilton, and consider for a moment the indication of possessiveness. Ms. (Mr.?) Cohen saw fit to alert us to the fact that the DUI belonged to Paris by simply adding an apostrophe to the end of that bird-brained socialite's 's-ending' name. Is the AP Entertainment Writer correct?

Possessives certainly are pesky. My friend, Sabina, and I went to see the movie Bridget Jones's Diary. Our enjoyment of this film was marred by the punctuation quandary in which we were mired. Both of us recalled (whether correctly or not) from our formative years of English language instruction that in order to indicate possessiveness of a name or noun ending in 's' we were merely to place an apostrophe at the end, regardless of whether the noun were singular or plural. We were very confused as to why the title of the film (and book) contained what we saw as a superfluous 's.' Like Sandy Cohen, we would have given Miss Jones only an apostrophe to give her possession of that diary.

Thankfully, there is an accessible authority on grammar to which to turn that can relieve the minds of the linguistically pure (and those who want to be). It is Woe Is I by Patricia T. O'Conner (Riverhead Books, 1996). She unravels the riddle of possessives as such:
  • If the word is singular, always add 's, regardless of its ending. (This is true even if the ending is s, z, or x -- whether sounded or silent.) The waiter spilled red wine on Demi's dress, which came from Kansas's finest shop. The dress's skirt, which resembled a tutu from one of Degas's paintings, was ruined. Etc.
  • If the word is plural and doesn't already end in s, add 's: The children's menu was a rip-off, and the men's room was painted fuchsia.
  • If the word is plural and ends in an s, add just the apostrophe: The Willises' car was stolen . . . The cops' attitude was surly. The victims' evening was now demolished. (p. 38-39)

Here is an added plea from a concerned citizen: Please, please do not indicate a couple or family by adding an apostrophe or an 's. For instance, I pass by on my walks to and from our neighborhood park a house whose mailbox contains the following designation: The Lewis'. This is wrong all around. I think that the residents meant to indicate that this was where you could find a family called The Lewises. Or, perhaps, they were looking for a short way to indicate that this mailbox is the place to deposit what is The Lewises' mail. One of these long winter nights I may have to enact some vigilante grammatical repairs with stick-on letters and fix that travesty.

Anyway, back to Ms. (Mr.?) Sandy Cohen. You do not want to be harsh on someone whose life must hold little in the way of reward, considering her line of work necessarily includes writing articles on that walking advertisement for the inheritance tax, Paris Hilton. Add to that, should Sandy be a man, he then has the whole androgynous name issue to deal with. So, I'm not meaning to pound on this poor reporter of the unimportant and uninspiring. However, it can not be denied that this writer should have added an ''s' to Ol' Drunky's name instead of a lonely apostrophe.

And I'm glad we've had the opportunity to clear up this pressing concern. Carry on, carry on.

The Great Problem

Isabel Paterson, one of the most amazing people that America has ever had the privilege of calling her own, once wrote: The great problem of the writer is that if you do anything else you have no time to write, and, if you don't, you have nothing to write about.

Alas, I have been in that cycle of insanity lo these many months. Life is joyfully busy, intensely productive, brimmingly full. And that is good, indeed. Every day, I think of a number of topics on which to write, but at the end of the day -- in the wee sma's when I used to get it all out, finger-to-keyboard -- I fall into bed in a state of happy exhaustion. I guess that Evelyn Waugh would note that I am in the process of saving up writer's capital, to be hoarded and spent on future work. I hope that is true. I'm trying to get notes down, at the very least, to bolster and refresh my memory when at last life slows to its normal pace of hectic tranquility.

For those of you who read Andrea's blog, she and her family are up here, safe and sound. I think they are enjoying a respite from the late summer heat that would have engulfed them in sultry Texas. It's been HOT for us web-footed Western Washingtonians, but she and her husband laugh at our discomfort in temps that hit the low 80's and declare that we would spontaneously combust should we ever step foot into the Land O' Longhorns. It's nice to meet a cyber-friend face-to-face and connect in a deeper way. I'm very glad that they took the chance on moving up north.

I can truly say that I am ready for autumn. This time last year found me sad in the midst of my autumn bliss, because I thought that it was my last in Washington. This year, with our decision to stay, I can face my favorite season with unmitigated joy. I can hardly wait to get the sweaters out of storage and feel the tingle of rain on my face and crave hot cocoa and cider and watch the leaves turning red and gold.

All joy and blessings to you, blogworld friends!