It’s 2:53 pm . It’s 64 degrees, and we’re all wearing long sleeves and socks. The girls are having a party upstairs, celebrating Tiny’s “tremendous courage”. They didn’t have an answer when I asked them what she had tremendous courage about, apparently she just has it, which is reason enough for a pretend party.
So far today I have made breakfast (cereal), done 2 loads of laundry which are currently hanging out to dry so I’m hoping it doesn’t rain, cleaned the kitchen, scrubbed the bathroom floor, folded other laundry, done school with the girls, made lunch (grilled cheese and peaches- separately, no peaches in the sandwiches), and practiced calligraphy. I am having a hard time getting the hang of changing pressure on the pen nib to get a different line width, but as I keep saying to the girls- we get better when we practice. And since I say it, I should show it too.
I have no idea what the girls are doing right now, but they are currently yelling “tectonic plates! Tectonic plates!” upstairs.
This morning I read Sinead O’Connor’s letter to Miley Cyrus- written because Miley said that Sinead’s Nothing Compares to You video was inspiration for her Wrecking Ball video. Then I read this (I promise I don’t usually read this much about Miley Cyrus, but I’d been thinking about her), and I think that my issue is not her right to dance like a stripper if she wants to, not shock over her appearing naked in a video, not even that all the girls who grew up watching Hannah Montana are now seeing her do this stuff. It’s that she thinks she’s making a statement, and the fact of it is, she is not making that statement well. Whatever it is she’s trying to say is getting lost in translation- it’s like when Lady Gaga wore the meat dress and had a long, complex reasoning and message behind it, and all I could think was- no one got that. We just saw meat. And I don’t think it’s because we’re too dumb to get it- the message is not clear. And as an artist, that means you messed up. I tell the girls that there is no wrong way to make art, and I believe that. But there are effective ways and ineffective ways. Madonna was sensational and shocking, and her videos had a point. You might not agree with the point, but you knew what it was. People were furious when Sinead tore up the picture of the pope, but she didn’t do it just to be shocking and get attention, she had a point. Miley Cyrus has spoken out about people saying her VMA performance was too sexy by saying that she was dressed as a baby and surrounded by teddy bears. So the point was… what? I don’t mind pop performances for the sake of pop performances- are you kidding, I love them! But if you’re claiming to have a “movement” and be making a statement, then shouldn’t you be making one?
Sinead’s video was groundbreaking because she was not “beautiful” in it, because it was “boring”. I hated that video when it first came out. (I was 14 and loved early 90s hip hop- what can I say?) But it is absolutely raw, honest emotion, laid bare on a TV screen, and I love it now. And I can see the connection between that and the Wrecking Ball video- it’s supposed to be Miley, totally broken and devastated. But what it is is Miley naked on construction equipment. The thesis is lost, she needs to go back and rework her paper.
ANYWAY. Apparently I just needed to get that out.
Last night I read The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Cathrynne Valente. As far as I’m concerned, Valente is the queen of modern fairy tales. She gets them exactly right- stories of fantasy and flight in incredibly detailed, original worlds with emotional, psychological depth. Her The Orphan’s Tales books are some of the best I’ve ever read. The Girl Who books, however, they have my heart. They’re witty and clever and joyful, and they not only tell the story of a girl who goes to fairyland, but, like any good “going to another place” book (see Alice in Wonderland, Oz, etc) her experiences there reflect her life and challenges in the real world. The thing that I love about these books is that September (the main character) is a girl right on the cusp of growing up, and Valente does an insanely brilliant job of capturing the thoughts and turmoil and struggle of that period in a person’s life.
I don’t usually cry at sad parts in books ( shows are a different matter completely), but beautifully written truth makes me tear up. There’s a page in The Night Circus that makes me cry every time I read it, I can’t help it, it’s just so perfectly written. This book had me sobbing so hard that I couldn’t keep reading, and it happened multiple times. Not because it was sad, but because the images were so very beautiful, and the ideas so very true.
But a ship’s not a ship till she’s got ballast of her own. Down in the belly, a big massy mess of rope and wood and hardtack and love letters and harpoons and old lemons. Anything that ever fascinated the ship, made it sail true, patched it or broke it, anything the ship loved or longed for, anything it could use. … It all just sort of sinks down and jumbles up together into something hot and heavy inside you, and the weight of everything you ever wanted in the world will keep you steady even when the worst winds blow.
So it is written-but so too, it is crossed out. You can write over it again. You can make notes in the margins. You can cut out the whole page. You can, and you must, edit and rewrite and reshape and pull out the wrong parts like bones and find just the thing and you can forever, forever, write more and more and more, thicker and longer and clearer. Living is a paragraph, constantly rewritten.
Marriage is a wrestling match where you hold on tight while your mate changes into a hundred different things. The trick is that you’re changing into a hundred other things, but you can’t let go.
And those aren’t even the parts that had me sobbing. Those parts were just little lines that wouldn’t make sense out of context, so stunning they made me gasp and sob. I realize that probably sounds melodramatic, but that’s what language does to me; one of the reasons I love books and read so much- to find those little moments of perfection.
There are so many insights in this book; about love, about fear, about what it means or doesn’t mean to grow up. It will make you remember when you just wanted everything to speed up so you could get to the good parts, and what it feels like to want the freedom to choose your own fate. And you will learn that a fate is
just a little toy version of yourself, made out of alabaster and emerald and a little bit of lapis lazuli and ambition and coincidence and regret and everyone else’s expectations and laziness and hope and where you’re born and who to and everything you’re afraid of plus everything that’s afraid of you.
But it’s also full of wonderful visuals, amazing sugar storms and a city inside a snail shell on the moon, and a circus staffed by paper people- absolutely magical.
Can you tell that I liked it? This is why I loved working in a comic store, why I’d love to work in a book store or a library. I could talk about books I love all day.
On a related note, don’t you love that everybody has their own thing that they just light up when they talk about? And it’s not always the thing they’d say that they’re passionate about. One of my friends would tell you that she’s passionate about photography (and I’m sure she is), but she comes alive when she talks about food. I could listen to her talk about food all day long, even if I didn’t like the particular food she was talking about. I love seeing people talk about things they love, I think people wear their true faces when they’re holding forth on the subject that makes their heart sing.
Yes, I am a hippy. No, I don’t care.
I also just have to share with you something that made me laugh. Mia Farrow has apparently come out and told Vanity Fair that her son Ronan is possibly Frank Sinatra’s son rather than Woody Allen’s. That’s not the funny part. The funny part is Ronan’s response on twitter:
Oh, it kills me.
Since apparently I’m just rambling now, can I mention that I love Vanity Fair? It’s one of the few magazines I read anymore- well, read. I don’t read any magazines anymore because they only have very few places that sell US magazines here and I haven’t picked any up yet. But Vanity Fair always lures me in. It almost always has an interesting cover, and stories that are more interesting than losing weight or whatever. I will probably end up searching out a copy of the November issue to read the Mia Farrow article.
(See? I want to read about all of those things! Except maybe Tony Curtis nude.)
I should also mention that you really should try to see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, because it is absolutely fantastic. I’ve seen my fair share of Shakespeare productions in my time, and this is one of the most natural feeling productions I have ever seen. The actors come across as completely natural, as if everyone uses Shakespearean language every day. There’s never a point that you think, “this is pretty and all, but people don’t actually talk like this”. It also deals beautifully with the ups and downs of the story, in a way that I haven’t seen another production of this particular play do. When things go sour in Act 4, it is absolutely heartbreaking. (Why I would expect any less from Joss Whedon, I don’t know.) Horrible things are being said, but you understand why each and every person is saying them and why they feel they have to. The anguish is so palpable, which then just makes the 5th act all the better. Alexis Denisof is phenomenal, just so incredibly good. I’d love to see him play Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew.
I think that’s all I’ve got. I should go practice some Japanese.
What are you up to? What do you love talking about? What’s your favorite magazine?