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fantasy.

13 November 2009

let’s talk weddings.  specifically let’s talk wedding dresses.

i grew up fantasizing about wedding gowns.  my sister and i used to buy bridal magazines with some regularity.  we’d pour over them, dog-earing the dresses we liked, drooling over diamonds, dreaming of the day when we could deck ourselves out like the models in the magazines.  we weren’t totally without a critical eye.  we frequently made fun of mermaid dresses and models who looked like they were sick to their stomachs.  but we generally bought into the bridal image: poufy, white, bead-bedecked froth accented with pearls and a diamond ring.

i went bridal gown shopping with my sister when she was engaged a little over ten years ago.  it was fun watching her try dresses on.  and i loved the dress she chose–simple a-line with a square neck and minimal pearl beading.  but even then i had started telling my mother that i didn’t want a traditional wedding.  i had long since started making fun of the dresses i had fantasized about as a 13-year-old.  and when i saw first hand all of the planning that went into my sister’s wedding–well, as much as i liked the finished product (and it was a lovely wedding), i started threatening to elope.

tonight as i was flipping channels, i ran across say yes to the dress on TLC.  and i got sucked in.  except what was once fantasy is now more like horror.  the fashionista in me still kind of enjoys seeing dresses.  i do watch the academy awards mostly for the pre-show red carpet, after all.  but so many wedding dresses are just style nightmares.  and the practical, feminist, non-traditionalist me with my taste for simplicity–well, i can’t help but be horrified.  there’s the prices–$5000 for a dress?  really?!  that’s just nuts.  and that’s the low end of the budget, if this particular show is to be believed.  and then there’s the princess mentality.  heaven forbid the bride not have her perfect day.

i understand that weddings are a big deal in our culture.  i’m all for celebrating such an important occasion.  and i think people should celebrate in whatever way they feel is appropriate.  but i don’t like traditional weddings.  i don’t like the emphasis being on the party rather than on the commitment being made.  i don’t like the tradition of the father giving the bride to her husband; it smacks of the past when women did not have a legal identity of their own.  i don’t like the expense.  or the stress.  and i don’t like tradition for the sake of tradition.

but you know what i like the least?  i really hate the way the fantasy dominated my youth.  to such an extent that the failure to accomplish the dream has created serious emotional and psychological blocks for me as an adult.  the assumption that i would grow up and marry was so deeply ingrained that i never doubted it as a child and young woman.  but i have not lived the fantasy.  and as it became more apparent that i would not have the fantasy, my self worth and confidence became proportionately less.  i hate that.  why should my sense of value be contingent on my being married?  to my having the fantasy? that’s ridiculous.

so here’s what i fantasize of now: i fantasize of a world in which everyone, female and male, is valued for her- and himself.  alone.  because they are unique and individual and have wonderful things to offer the world.  and if they are fortunate enough to find another individual whom they love, then we will celebrate that union.  because it is a beautiful thing for two people to love each other and commit for a lifetime.  but it is also a beautiful thing for one person to live a full, rewarding life.  and that should be celebrated, too.

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pick-up.

12 November 2009
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today i got down.  and that made it hard to work.  and i can’t afford to have another day like that tomorrow.  so i’m going to make a list of good things and when i start to get down tomorrow, i’ll come read it.  so in no particular order, here are a few things that make my life lovely:

  • little birds hopping happily in the bushes outside the window
  • good news about a friend’s progress in a particularly tough class
  • talking to my sweet little niece  on the phone today
  • hearing another sweet little niece coo (this one’s only 2 1/2 months old)
  • cool enough weather to justify wearing a cozy sweater when i went out tonight
  • my mama telling me she loves me
  • talking with the dean about the progress i’m making in my program
  • making plans for a visit to the beautiful huntington gardens 
  • dark, delicious sipping chocolate at my favorite cafe 
  • the smell of rain and fresh cut grass when i stepped out the door tonight
and these little things are enough to pick me up.  g’night.

bad.

11 November 2009
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i’ve been thinking.  i need to find a better way to manage my bad habits.  because, you see, they tend to assert themselves in waves.  for instance, a while ago i committed to not drinking quite so much diet coke.  so i was good for a while.  then i had this party for which i, of course, bought diet coke, which left me with most of a flat of diet coke, which of course had to be consumed…you see where this is going?  and last week it culminated in consuming a 12-pack in just under 48 hours.  that’s just a wee bit too much diet coke to be healthy.

i do the same thing with television.  i go days without watching, weeks with only an hour or two of viewtime, and then–BAM! it hits.  i spend hours in front of the television (which is how i’ve managed to watch most of season three and four of bones in the last week).

this is clearly not a good thing.  so i’m resolved: i will now indulge in my bad habits in small bits on a more regular basis.  because surely it’s better to watch a little tv every few days than a lot of tv in just a few days or to drink a little diet coke in the space of a week or two than twelve cans in 48 hours.  this seems a positive resolution: just a bit of bad habit indulgence here and there.  you know–to save myself from myself.

some bad habits i’ll occasionally indulge:

  • watching tv.  most likely bones.  or occasionally NCIS.  and, if i can keep myself awake long enough, the daily show and once in a while the colbert report.
  • drinking diet coke.  though this is one that my recent headaches have indicated i should try to weed out altogether.
  • eating chocolate.  clearly this is not going to stop altogether; that would just be dumb.  so i’ll try to only eat really good chocolate.  and as i’m poor, this will likely only happen on the rare occasions i feel rich or someone else decides to give me really good chocolate.
  • laying in my bed awake for hours in the morning while doing nothing but listening to NPR.  i mean, NPR is certainly worth listening to, but surely it’s better to do it while cleaning or cooking or getting ready for the day–something that’s more productive than simply laying there.
i think that’s a good list to get started on.  so here’s to being bad more often in smaller doses.
{p.s. i know i missed yesterday for NaBloPoMo, but you’ll have to forgive me as i actually did not have access to a computer; odd, i know, but true.  i think being disconnected on occasion is an acceptable reason not to post daily.}

library.

9 November 2009
tags: , ,

tonight i was very disturbed.  you see, i was innocently minding my own business, driving home from a doctor’s appointment, when this story came on the radio.  all about a library that GOT RID OF ITS BOOKS.  excuse me!?  how can a library be a library without any books?  it makes no sense!

okay.  granted the library subscribed to a database with millions of digital books.  and it acquired some kindles students can check out.  but i’m very sorry to say digital books and digital book readers do not a library make.

now, don’t get me wrong.  i recognize the value of digital resources.  i use them all the time in my own research.  i love searchable text databases.  i love having online access to full text articles.  but i also print up the articles or chapters that i find pertinent to my research.  why? because there’s an enormous difference between reading material on a screen and reading it in print format.

it’s true that most digital readers allow for annotation in some way or another, but from what i’ve heard it’s cumbersome at best.  i’ve also been told that accessing footnotes on digital readers is difficult.  both of those tools–annotating a text and accessing that text’s notes–are invaluable to academic reading and research.  and then there’s the small detail of memory.  i frequently find things in a text because i remember that it was at the top of the left side of a page (or somesuch).  maybe i’m weird, but there’s just something more memorable about  a physical text than a nondescript screen of text.

and all of that doesn’t even touch the physical beauty of a book and of stacks of books.  there’s something magical about a library that cannot be duplicated.  books have lives, beyond the life they contain in their text.  they represent the interests and tastes and loves of the people who owned them, the priorities and emphases of the institutions that acquired them.  when someone dies and leaves behind a library, some part of her continues to live.  when someone gives a book, he also give some little bit of himself.  how could we possibly imagine that a world without books, even one in which all of the same information was immediately searchable and accessible through digital means, would be a world in which we would want to live?

i love digital tools.  i use them all the time.  but i hope i never get to the point that i choose digital texts over my lovely, beautiful, wonderful books.

bedlam.

8 November 2009

tomorrow, november 9, is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall.  i remember learning about it as a freshman in high school, recognizing its importance.  but i think the most powerful experience i had regarding the wall and what it represented was when i visited the imperial war museum in london.  outside, on the museum’s peaceful grounds, i found a chunk of the wall with wide open eyes and an even wider open mouth shouting the words “change your life.”

i spent hours alone at the imperial war museum, wandering exhibits that captured and explained the horrors of the great war and its successor, world war II.  i’ve always had a fascination with these two wars–with how the entire world could get caught up in such violence.  my visit to this particular museum was as much an act of homage to those who died and fought in the wars as it was an educational excursion for my own benefit.  because i had lived through the end of the cold war and the fall of the wall, this particular piece was especially powerful for me.

but what was the most powerful was the location of the museum.  you see, the imperial war museum is housed in what remains of the priory of st. mary of bethlehem, later known as bethlem royal hospital, more commonly known as bedlam.  first the priory and then bethlem royal hospital specialized in caring for the insane.  the juxtapositions of this site, its current focus on two of the most disastrous wars in history, its name’s popular connotation of insanity itself, and the birthplace of jesus strike me as not only interesting, but apt.  i do not believe that christianity necessarily causes either insanity or war, but i do believe that the bastardization and misunderstanding of christianity is at the root of a great deal of both insanity and bloodshed.  and this museum, with its long and rich heritage, captures that unfortunate history of christianity’s bastard children.

problem.

7 November 2009

so i have a problem.  just a slight dilemma.  you see, i’m in the middle of prepping for my phd exams.  and i’m getting more and more excited as i work.  but i have to pay my bills.  which means i have to teach.  which means i really should be grading the 225 paper and 75 journals (not to mention numerous homework assignments) i have recently collected.  but i just don’t want to.  i want to read.  and research.  and write.  i don’t want to grade.

but then there’s the little problem of rent.  and food.  so i suppose i’ll grade the damn papers.  wish me speedy grading.

books.

6 November 2009

i grew up reading.  i remember being six years old and bored, pestering my mother about what i could do.  she took me into the living room, pulled a bobbsey twins novel off the bookshelf, and suggested i read.  so i did.  and i never looked back.

the living room in our house was a treasure trove of books.  novels, poetry, short stories, encyclopedias, dictionaries, art books, books on how things worked, volumes of fiction for children.  you think of a kind of book, and you could probably find it in there.  i thought it was normal to have a full wall of books in a room, to have books in every room of the house.  i didn’t realize that some people relegate the few books they have to the closet or only buy books as decorating pieces.  for me, books were a way of living lives i couldn’t otherwise access.

and now–now i’m a bit of a book whore, to borrow a phrase from an old professor.  i love just about any kind of book.  fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, biographies, essays, history.  i love the feel of a book–the heft of its weight in my hand.  i love the smell of books that you only find in a space filled to the brim with texts.  and i love the look of books on a shelf; there was one particular aisle in the BYU library that i especially loved because most of the spines were red.

but most of all, i love losing myself in a book.  which makes my current task more pleasure than task, since it requires reading and reading and then reading some more (in preparation for my exams).  last week, it was a text about relationships between women, don quixote, and community.  this week, it is the origins of the novel and a novel in verse.  and next week will bring more.  this is a life i could get used to.


{photo by john }

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