Saturday, September 27, 2008

Freedom to Read

I've been contacted by an organization trolling for "Banned Book Week" entries on the Internet, and I've been given important news.

Apparently, I don't love my children. Or any children. Or even the U.S. Supreme Court. Maybe even America. And I certainly do not love God. (Wow, and I didn't even realize She was in the mix.)

The gist of the comment was that some children don't need to read some books. You know what? That's right. However, that's for their parents or guardians to decide.

When I was a child, my parents saw every book I was reading. Only once did Mom suggest I wait until I was older to read one book. (Helter Skelter really was a little intense for a 10-year-old.)

But here's the important thing to remember: I walked out of the library with the book.

It is not up to librarians, or committees, or mayors, or the government to decide what I can read. It's up to me and, if I am of an age, my parents.

Are there some books that children shouldn't read? Are there some books I read before I should have? Are there some books that contain objectionable material? Are there some books that shouldn't even see the light of day?

As my grandmother would have said, "Oh, jes."

But woe to the librarian or government official who tries to tell my children, my husband, or me whether we may read it.

Finally, should objectionable materials be in libraries? (I think that's the key issue for the group that tried to re-educate me.) And I phrase my answer in the form of a question: what's objectionable? I find Holocaust deniers objectionable and obscene. You may consider it fact. I like dinosaur books. You might think that's fiction and a challenge to your faith.

We can agree on some things that are unsuitable for the library. (My re-educators cited the U.S. Supreme Court, which has addressed this issue and established some guidelines, a good place to start.) The rest, let us decide for ourselves. I'll take care of my family. You take care of yours.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

1066 and Poetry

This week, Garrison Keillor has highlighted the importance of the Norman Conquest of 1066 in the English language.

Now, for those of you who did not take the History of England class with me, 1066 is the year William the Conqueror did just that to England.

And if you read this week's entries of The Writer's Almanac, you can find out how that helped make English one of the hardest languages to learn.

The next time you lament the fact that someone doesn't speak English, think about to, two and too. Or, better yet, its and it's. It takes a brave person to learn English.

And to that end, here is a poem that sets my teeth on edge. Enjoy!

Windows is Shutting Down

Windows is shutting down, and grammar are
On their last leg. So what am we to do?
A letter of complaint go just so far,
Proving the only one in step are you.

Better, perhaps, to simply let it goes.
A sentence have to be screwed pretty bad
Before they gets to where you doesnt knows
The meaning what it must be meant to had.

The meteor have hit. Extinction spread,
But evolution do not stop for that.
A mutant languages rise from the dead
And all them rules is suddenly old hat.

Too bad for we, us what has had so long
The best seat from the only game in town.
But there it am, and whom can say its wrong?
Those are the break. Windows is shutting down.

by Clive James
from Opal Sunset: Selected poems, 1958–2008
© W.W. Norton & Company, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Anti-Wedding" is Anti-Person

After reading the article about Washington Post writers Caitlin Gibson and Rachel Manteuffel's anti-wedding project, I was sickened. They were just as snobbish as the very industry they ridiculed.

In a video on the Washington Post Web site, these journalists thumbed through bridal magazines citing all of the images of material goods that oppressed women because, they said, the industry made women feel bad when they couldn't afford a $15,000 wedding dress.

Then they criticized those who wanted to do just that.

Go ahead, ladies, make the women feel bad for their decisions — join the Wedding Industry Complex Club.

For the record, not all couples want to spend six months' mortgage on a wedding dress. Some want an event that features lace, fondant and flowers but without the hype.

When David and I married this summer, I didn't flip through a single bridal magazine. I did visit The Knot once, though, to find bridal bouquet ideas for Louise, who was making my bouquet.

I was sniffed at by a snooty dress saleswoman (two months? and how much did you want to spend? Oh, well, we can't accommodate you, but let me show you a $20,000 wedding dress....). By Caitlin and Rachel's measure, I suppose I should have felt bad, but I didn't.

Although David and I didn't play the game, I cannot fault a couple who want all the tulle they can handle or a groom's cake in the shape of an armadillo. If you want to buy a Mercedes instead of a Yugo, go for it. Life is about making the best decisions you can, and this is the first a couple will make together.

However, no matter the make and model of the wedding, I hope the blissful couple remember: it's not about the wedding, but the marriage that follows. If you'd do it in a dreary office of the justice of the peace on a Tuesday afternoon, the only witness a tired secretary borrowed from the DMV next door, then you're marrying the right person.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

No Longer Hip

Okay, the soft-focus, feel-good entries are over. Now the hard work begins.

As Wesley said in The Princess Bride, "To the pain."

Recently, when I walked (which was only when I had to), I used some sort of assistive device. I walked slowly, used elevators and sat a lot.

Now I'm trying to walk more frequently and farther. You know, it isn't as easy as I remember it being.

First of all, what happened to all of those muscles I used daily in such torturous ways for lo those many years? They stopped working. Now every move is an "Ow, so that's where that muscle is" moment. (If this is revenge by said muscles, I am in serious trouble.)

I never had a wild childhood or teen years, so now I'm getting my joints. The ankle is an ouch-fest. The knee is a challenge. The hip — oh, the hip; if anyone wants to trade left hips with me, contact me immediately.

I really am no longer hip.

I'd like to think that there's a part of my body that still likes me, but the more I think about it, the less I am convinced. I thought it would be pleased for the siesta and return refreshed and eager, like we all do when school starts in September.

You mean that was just me?

So, I guess I really had unreasonable expectations for my poor person. Thank you all for not mentioning it before. To have had a glimpse into the future with no chance to avoid or change it would have been mean. Silence, in this case, was very golden.

And, yes, I'll continue to walk. Just don't think I'll be happy about it.

And the nice thing is, I can be cranky. I feel well enough now to know the difference between comfort and discomfort — and to have the spirit to kvetch. I'll try to not be insufferable about it, but I make no promises.

"To the pain!"

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Paparazzi

Look to the right of this entry, and down a little bit. See the Cool Links section?

Do you see an entry that intrigues you?

Okay, I'll give you a hint: see what our Personal Paparazzo captured at David's and my nuptials. ("Our" paparazzo would be Steve Hayward. Isn't he great?)

Those who would like to possibly join the Hayward Gallery for The Event of the Century (so far), send in your photos! I'd love to see them!

In the meantime, check out the photos. I think you'll like them. I know David and I do!