Thursday, December 20, 2007

Yesterday's events

Don't come here for a laugh or a happy holiday story. Today the world makes me sad

Yesterday I saw a boy of about 3 years old with a pair of jeans emblazened with the word "Hustla" and dollar signs on the leg. It made me so sick, just to think how popular culture has glamorized the ghetto life to the point of imposing it on toddlers. That was at 1 pm.

An hour later, my husband's college roommate, a Sacramento Sherriff's Deputy, was shot. By a 16-year old "hustla". According to my husband, Vu was the kind of person who'd give you the shirt off his back, just an all-around good guy. He was part of a profession that doesn't take personal safety for granted. He'd been in the gang unit for a while and had no doubt had those moments in his career where he was surprised to still be breathing. And yesterday, he didn't make it home.

In recent years, there's been a lot made of police brutality and the havoc that is created when police go bad. Think Ramparts in LA, Abner Louima's case in NYC, Rodney King, the list goes on. But what is ignored are the good guys, the ones who are trying to make a difference. Although he was a gun-toting police officer, Vu was trying to make a gang-ridden area safer and just his presence in the community was part of that goal. What is wrong with that? While I don't disagree that there are certainly bad apples just as there are in every profession, it's discouraging that so many people are willing to lump all police officers together. No one seems to report on the good cops, while all the bad cops get press.

In this case, it's hard to comprehend how many lives were shattered by this senseless event. I'm sure Vu's partner is devastated, and I can't imagine what his wife of 8 months is going through. Although I'm having a hard time sympathizing with his murderer right now, it is also sad that a 16 year old has now ruined his own life as well. Apparently he took off running when he spotted the officers, although they didn't know why. After Vu pursued him on foot, he used his 16 year old hands and fired a fatal shot.

And that is what my 3-year old friend's jeans were advertising. A lifestyle that destroys those trying to do good as well as those who for whatever reasons, social, psychological or economic, are driven into crime. So senseless.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My books, books, books

Since my pal Lisa reviewed 11 books in a recent post, I thought I'd report in about a few I've read of late. Not that I'm near as prolific a reader as her (and keep in mind we have kids roughly the same age and she has a career (which I don't), has recently gotten her MFT license (which I didn't) and does yoga (which I don't)).
Anyway, I'll pretend I don't know that she does anything but read, because at least then I'm not revealed for the sloth that I am. So there. It's revisionist history, or rather revisionist present, since it's not much history. But I digress.
Book #1: The Linnet Bird by Linda Holeman.
This is another of my favorite genre, a historical fiction novel. Ooooh, I love it. And this one was GREAT. One of those people-who've-somehow-gotten-somewhere-even-when-it-looked-impossible and I didn't really hate the main character at any time. (You know the kind that are such strivers that even though they've overcome, you kind of want them to crash and burn for some reason. Or maybe that's just me.) This book is set in Britain in the 1800's and there's nary a positive thing I can say about Linny Gow's childhood. Think sweatshops of that era and abusive stepfathers. Ick. Anyway, it's a super interesting read, if you ask me.
Book #2: The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L Carter.
This book is long. Really long. I am perhaps just a teensy bit less patient with books than I have been in other eras of my life, but this book was beyond detail-oriented, it was tedious. I like books with believable and complicated plots (or maybe I do, I think I do. Do I?) but this book was ridiculous. Like the main character's dad who dies and leaves a complicated plan for his son to carry out, of which his son knows nothing, and forthwith goes the book. Throw in a complicated marriage, a young boy who barely speaks and a million useless pieces and you have this book. I don't understand why it got such great reviews, quite frankly. I've read many other works that are better written (like this blog, of course), more realistic and more interesting. I fell in love with approximately none of the characters and felt a kinship to about none of them. You know how sometimes you get to know a character so well, you know what their next move will be, and even with that the book doesn't become predictable? Well, not this book. I had no idea why the main guy did 99% of the things he did and yet after about 400 pages, I really didn't care. At. All. Someone tell me what is so great about this book because I certainly can't tell you.
Book #3: Gone with the Windsors by someone I can't remember.
This was a silly little book with a very silly name, but a fun read. If you are at all fascinated by royalty of the 20th century, you'd find this interseting. It's about the love affair between Crown Prince (and then King) Edward (I think that was his name) and Wallice Simpson, the divorced American as told through the diary of a friend of Wallice's. I think she's such an interesting person and he made such an interesting choice to give up the prospect of being King of England for her, when she was such an obvious social climber. If you want a light-as-a-marshmallow read, this is it. Good fun.
Book #4: Go dog Go by P.D. Eastman.
This is a current favorite of Boy #2. It's a really great book if you aren't at all interested in plot line or details. Come to think of it, it's pretty much on the other end of the spectrum from The Emperor of Ocean Park. The only issue I have with this book is that we picked it up at a yard sale and it's missing 3 pages. So at one point there are some dogs on a ferris wheel and all I know is that the narrarator is stating "Dogs going down," and I can only assume that on the previous page there were dogs going up, but once I get this work in its entirety, I'll fill you in. It's gripping, to say the least.
Book #5: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
The author was on Talk of the Nation today, and I liked her very much on audio as I did on paper. (You know how you might love a book, and then hear the author and think, "What a pompous twit" like I did when I heard Annie Proulx. Or maybe I was just in a bad mood, but she destroy my ability to read her books.) The book is basically the autobiographical story of her journey from a devastating divorce to travel around the world finding herself. The things I loved about it was that it was a quite painless read, although I admit to skimming some of the yoga-in-India section. I loved how she introduces her readers to the people in her book and you end up loving them all. A fun and interesting read that I couldn't put down.
I could go on, but beyond these books, I've recently read some book sthat I could put down. i got only about 10 pages into a Jane Smiley (Ten Days in the Hills, I think) and realized there was no reason to waste 5 more minutes on it. I started a book called The Crimson Portrait which had an interesting premise and setting (WWI England in a hospital for soldiers with facial injuries) but the plot basically didn't move for the first half of the book. I quit that one too. So I'm ending this report to say I'm proud that I finally am not wasting time on books that aren't "working" for me. If I don't like it, I no longer feel compelled to waste my time with it, the aforementioned Emperor not included. (In my defence, I felt like so many people loved that book, I just had to try to love it to. Didn't work.)
So there you have it. The moral of the story is: read more books. The end.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jingle bells...

We asked our oldest what he thought he wanted for Christmas. I was completely drawing a blank because he's oh-so-needy and hardly has any toys. ahem. The asking was the mistake.
First he said he'd think about it because he just wasn't sure. I'm thinking he's going to suggest a pony or a dog or something. Instead he comes out with (drumroll, please)... a violin.
"A violin?," I ask. I wasn't aware he'd been to the symphony recently so I had no idea how that popped into his head. "Do you know how you hold a violin?" I asked, to see if he had any idea how that idea popped into his head.
"You hold it up and you scrape this thing called a bow over it. I saw it at the gym on SpongeBob."
In a few years when he's playing with the New York Philharmonic, he'll proudly tell the first person to interview him (after his successful tenure at Julliard) that his inspiration was SpongeBob.
On second thought, I think we'll get him some Hotwheels.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A treatise on tea, or, Is that the Nyquil writing?

So basically I"ve been home all day, just being sick, sick, sick. One of those my-bones-hurt kinds of sick, those my-head-will-surely-be-exploding-momentarily kinds of sick. And I'm drinking a lovely drink I'd like to share with you, our faithful audience of 1.5.

My old friend emmi (old in the friend from years ago, not friend of old age) recently posted about her love for coffee. (In a side note, I must comment on her name. It seems like I always have a few friends of the same name. When she and I were close, I was also close to another emily.* A few years later, it was Nancy. Nancy I used to work with in a restaurant, Nancy I was good friends with during graduate school, Nancy who was my supervisor at my first job. Right now, it's Jenny. I have two Library Friends named Jenny so if that is your name, please do not befriend me because it's quite confusing to my family. Thank you.)

Back to my I'm-sick-and-Emily-posted-about-coffee drivel. As some of you might know, I've gotten back on the wagon. No coffee for me. AND (this would be shocking information to my former colleagues Kim, Kim and Kim) very limited Diet Coke. I'm not pregnant, although that is when I first quit the black liquid gold. It just doesn't do me any favors. It took me 4 years to completely quit, even though it made me sick to my gut every. single. time. I. drank. it. I'm a weak, weak woman.

So I'm here to promote my latest favorite hot drink, Yogi Ginger Tea. You can get it at Trader Joe's (apologies to prrrof and other Mountain State readers) for a mere $2.99 a pack and it is delic. Just the thing when one s stuffy in one's head. (A shot of Nyquil added and you are good for the night.) The best part is (OK, maybe not the best part, but a really, really good part), it's the old-fashoined kind of tea that has a little message for you on each tea bag. Today mine was "Keep going." I like that. Short, sweet, to the point, just like me.

I would keep going, but that would completely destroy the short and sweet template I've obviously established in this blog. Sweet dreams.

* Since it seemed overly laborious to have a side note in a side note... go to Emily's most recent post and click on the etsy link and you will see quite possibly the cutest skirts I ever did see. And for a mere 18 clams! I'm not only fortunate enough to be her friend, I'm fortunate that she has good taste to direct me to sites like that.Just thought you might like to know.