lit nerds unite

21 06 2008

(original post:  7/6/06)

Sooo my summer has been spent poolside and reading. Here’s what I’ve read so far…
by John Steinbeck- East of Eden, The Winter of Our Discontent
by Kurt Vonnegut – Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse 5
by Truman Capote- Breakfast at Tiffany’s
by Fedor Dostoevsky- Crime and Punishment
by Alan Paton- Cry, The Beloved Country
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (can’t remember the author)
by David Sedaris – Naked
by F. Scott Fitzgerald- This Side of Paradise

hmmm I feel I’ve read more than 10 books… but alas, perhaps not. So far I’ve liked them all. It took me awhile to get through Crime and Punishment, but I think I was just on a lull from a lot of reading. Any suggestions for further reading? For some reason I’m even more about the books this summer than I normally am, and that’s saying something, because I love love love to read always.

I just finished reading The Winter of Our Discontent, and it made me think. Actually that is somewhat of an understatement, as all books make me think, but I liked the issues that this book in particular brought to my mind.

Basically, the book is about a poor grocery clerk named Ethan Hawley, living somewhere in New England with his wife Mary, and two children Allen and Ellen. To me, the entire book revolved around the idea of morality. Ethan and his family are very poor, as a result of loss of fortune by his father, and lack of vision and/or ambition on his part. His family name is one of greatness, however.

The book meanders through his relationships with his family and people in the town (which is one of the reasons I absolutely adore books by Steinbeck, he spends so much time on the intricacies of social situations and interactions between characters… it paints such a clear picture), but keeps going back to the nagging feeling that Ethan is poor and needs to provide for his family and not be a disgrace to his family name.

A complicated plot to increase the wealth of the family ensues, leading to the deportation of his Italian grocery store owner Marullo, and a plan for a deceivingly simple bank robbery. In the end he aborts his bank robbery plan because of someone unexpectedly visiting the grocery store. This alerts a whole line of questioning to me, mainly about the morals of humans. As humans, do we have an innate sense of what is moralistic or would we abandon societal standards if no one were to find out? Is punishment the only thing keeping us moral?

At work we’ve been on a big kick of talking about religion (mainly because there is a huge chasm of belief systems that I think some of them have never before had to deal with) and I always contemplate the complex relationship of religion and morality. Which came first?

It is evident that religion sets a standard for morality, many of the societal standards for behavior actually stem from the tenets of some religion or another (usually we are only faced with the Christian ones, but I assume this to be true in other countries with different major religions), but would we still have morals if it weren’t for religious beliefs? Coming from a fairly secular standpoint, I would have to say yes. I have morals, and I believe that the morals I have are ones I would have even without the heavy influence of religion on our society. I believe it to be wrong to kill, to steal, to cheat. Why are they wrong, though?

Killing is fairly obvious, people should not be allowed to take the law into their own hands. This relates to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the main character Raskolnikov gets a Napolean-complex and believes himself to be a great man; above the law. After this he kills a woman who is a shady money-lender because A. he is poor and needs money to continue his education and renew his image in the eyes of his family, and B. because he believes her cheating of poor people to be wrong. While his reasons are (for the sake of argument) somewhat just, it is still evident that it is not the place of a common citizen to make this judgement. Still, is it not also a crime that people should be so poor as to feel the need to commit unlawful and immoral crimes? Makes you think, doesn’t it? So what is the bigger crime, killing for money or dying for lack of money…. age old question. Rob the rich to feed the poor, Robin Hood-esque and terribly romantic.

I could spin off for hours on different theories of law and morality and religion but for now I must stop, and sleep. Really, I was lying in bed thinking about all this so I simply had to get up and write it all down.

I think I will forever be nipping at the heels of the answers to my questions about morals, religion, faith, and the human condition. It is frustrating, because it is sure that the answer to everything is deceptively simple, far too simple for the overthinkers of the world to grasp.

Any thoughts?


I don’t seem obvious do I?

21 06 2008

(original post: 10/23/06)

My Berry-Good tea is the most delightful shade of purple with just the right amount of honey. Outside it’s very brisk, my ears regretted my lack of forethought with regards to wearing a hat. The MSU Museum is empty at this hour, so I still have no interview, no quotes, nothing at all for my feature story due WEDNESDAY. Stressed out? I should be. But I spent all of yesterday reading about the intricacies of immune responses and eating ice cream, and tossing disc in the mud. The tea helps, too. I could write an excellent story without quotes, but they are part of the grade. Damn.

I spend far too much time online. But I like reading, and stranger’s blogs are much like novels. The best part about blogs as novels? They don’t end, leaving me wanting more. People keep living, and their stories continue for years. There is always an archive with a backstory, always a post for every mood. I think I’m addicted to the lives of other people. Not that my own isn’t enough, but something about commiserating with people I’ve never met, realizing we’re all so alike and the human condition is very much a shared experience is very comforting.

Onto the rest of Monday, g’day.

One of my life goals is to write a novel. I’ve got some strange notion in my head that I could possibly write THE Great American Novel, which is strange because I have never believed that one novel could attain such status. There is no one defining American experience, so many cultures come to this place and don’t even tend to mix that much at all. Perhaps there is a notion of the American experience, but I think it’s probably something misleading like becoming rich and famous, or being able to provide for your family on minimum wage. Land of the free…

I have digressed from my point, it seems. I will just say this: someday I will write a novel, and it will hopefully be an ok read. I will also train for triathlons when I stop being so godawful busy. Let’s hope my goals are not unattainable. Back to the grind!

[honesty or mystery? tell me I’m not scared anymore]

it’s true, i’m creepy

21 06 2008

(original post: 2/2/07)

In the shower tonight, I got to thinking. (sex in the city reference, anyone? anyone?)…. anyhow, I was thinking… why am I such a creep?
To put it into context, let me admit, I do *on occasion* or perhaps *more than a little* read the weblogs of strangers. It began with a few very witty strangers with very interesting lives. Or perhaps not that interesting of daily lives, but very different cultural or geographical experiences than my own.
I could analyze it with a simple “I’m very interested in people”, which would technically be true. I am a communication major and my favorite books are those with EXCELLENT characterization. However, upon comparing them to the books I read, I realized something.
In every great book, there is invariably an ending. Often it is tidy, brings some conflict to rest or preaches a moral standard. Whatever. In any case, they end, and I am often devastated. But… these people, their lives…. they MUST KEEP GOING! Nobody reaches some kind of stopping place and just… stops. I realize books are a “window” and I should enjoy them as such, but with the advent of the internet, I am now satisfied.

Real people, real lives, never ending.

While they may hit road bumps, minor conflicts that end up resolving themselves or perhaps huge life changing crises, life still goes on. People grow, they change, and I get to read about them for YEARS. Not days (or hours, as my reading habits often do not allow a book to remain unfinished), but literally, they just live. And write. And I get to see it all unfold.

The moral of this story: I may be a creep, but I really enjoy a good story.

Beginning to an end

21 06 2008

Life has very few posts for me lately. Right now I am roadtripping, so soon I will have stories. Also, I will be moving to SOUTH KOREA in less than a month, and will have many stories then. Until that fateful life move, I will be posting some old favorite writings from past journals or my private writing… just for fun and content! 🙂

Hope it’s interesting to anyone who stumbles past.

Summer Lovin’

12 06 2008

I have a general appreciation for all seasons, but summer is my all time favorite. Although I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, yesterday I headed to the campus pool to lounge, read and swim. I’ve succeeded in convincing the receptionists that I am still a student (Yes, here’s my id card, no I don’t have a pass this semester so I’ll just pay, no worries!), because alumni rates are approximately 3x as much. I don’t feel too bad about my deceit, as I’ve only been out of school for a month or so. Since I am job-less and homeless I don’t have much structure to my days, so a trip to the pool is a perfect way to waste away the day. I threw on my neon pink bikini (this new craze of 80s wear has made it so much easier for me to dress like a complete nutter) and a black and white striped dress that reminds me of 1940’s beachwear. With the giant bug sunglasses (don’t hate, I love those damn things) and a straw tote bag, I was ever the idyllic pool lounger. I also managed to kick/swim a 500 even though I wasn’t outfitted for swimming-as-exercise. May as well get the heart pumping a little along with all the lounging and reading.

I finished my second reading of ‘Running with Scissors’, because nothing makes me happier than laughing out loud at books, and Augusten Burroughs is pretty much perfect for that. Plus he obviously had an extremely unusual childhood, and it’s nice to see even the most fucked up kids grow up alright. I also started reading ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’. I’m now halfway through it and am enjoying it thus far.

In conclusion: summer is perfect poolside with a book.

Fin 🙂

have love, will travel

10 06 2008

For me, the decision to move abroad and teach English was an easy one. I’m not one to meticulously plan each detail or worry about what “could” happen. I do understand that there will be challenges, but what kind of an experience would it be without a little personal challenge and hopefully, growth. The past three years or so I’ve been intensely traveling at every moment possible. I’ve been to 9 new countries, lived in Australia for 5 months, driven around a country COMPLETELY ALONE (granted it was New Zealand, and the sheep were fairly harmless despite causing roadblocks), been to a few new states in the States, and generally discovered a passion within for exploring and experiencing different countries and cultures. 3 weeks in Europe excited me for travel, but 5 months in Australia destroyed me. Now I feel like I have to live in a place to truly experience it, to truly understand the country (or at least have a decent go at understanding it).

Lucky for me, I’m young, relatively unattached (no more school! boyfriend is coming WITH!) and completely convinced that the world is my oyster. Hopefully somewhere along the way my restless self will either resolve itself or I will find a sustainable way to travel forever.

In the travel vein, I found an interesting link to some of the top travel destinations that Americans can’t or shouldn’t visit. I was aware of the beauty of Cuba and Myanmar, but who knew Iran had gorgeous beaches? I am in awe of how much I don’t know just because of living in the States, and the selective information taught to us in school and life about other areas of the world. Interesting, and terrifying.

[if you need lovin’, oh baby i travel]