For the last few years, I have been having recurring nightmares about John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. One of my fears is someday I will have to read this book again. I had to read it once in high school, and twice (so far) in grad school. I agree with the social politics, but it is still a heart-wrenching story, full of heavy symbolism.
The Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939. The novel is set in America during the Great Depression and is about the plight of sharecroppers who are driven from their home by economic hardship.
We can draw historical parallels between 1939 and 2009. I wonder, where have the people who recently lost their homes gone? Those people must have packed their belongings in their cars, and travelled to new places, to try to make fresh starts.
What have those people found when they reached the new places? Are there jobs? Are those vulnerable people being exploited? Are corporations more powerful than the American government?
The Grapes of Wrath is almost like an earlier version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a novel that I liked a lot. The Road is a post-apocalyptic vision about the transcendence of love and hopefulness of faith. (I'm afraid to see the movie. I think it will haunt me even more than the book.)
The Grapes of Wrath and The Road both won the Pulitzer Prize. Here are some pictures from the film version of “The Grapes of Wrath”, with Henry Fonda:
The night George W. Bush was “elected” (the first time), I cried. CRIED. Even though we had to wait for Florida to “fix” the chads on the ballots. I just knew we were returning to the dark days of Ronald Reagan and George the father.
When the US went to war in Iraq (in 2003), I had a nervous breakdown. I put my disaster supplies in the trunk of my car. I was ready for the apocalypse.
I was just discussing US politics with my high school crush. (We were reunited by Facebook—it’s so magical.) I was upset to find out he's now a moderate Republican. (He's against the health bill and against any stimulus for job creation.) He replied:
I am surprised by your visceral reaction.I know, he's amazing. But in my mind, he's like Anakin Skywalker when he goes to the dark side in "Revenge of the Sith".
I shared my feelings on twitter:
I was so upset that I misspelled "unrepentant".
Edited to add: My high school crush is actually an "independent" who is worried about the deficit. Same difference.
Me: I think I will work on a banner this weekend.
Adam: (sarcastic) Great.
My husband says I spend too much time on the internet. Apparently, all I want to do is talk to my “friends” online. He thinks the way to solve this problem (and all of the problems in our marriage) is for me to go back to work.
It’s nice he knows you are my friends. (It’s just like you are real people!)
But I do think my blogging “career” deserves a little more, I don’t know, respect.
I married my husband because I thought he was going to be supportive of my artistic endeavours. He is. He goes to work, and he does stuff around the house. And I am grateful. Really.
Adam: What about when you spent that whole month writing a novel? Did I once say it was stupid?
Me: No. But I don’t see what the big deal was. Usually, I was writing at night, after the child went to sleep. And it only took an hour a night.
So what if I want to fluff around all day on the internet? Writers need lots of time to think about nothing and fish for ideas. If I wasn’t obsessed with the internet, I would be reading books. Or writing in my journal.
And why isn't being a stay-at-home mum a worthwhile occupation? I am a feminist, but in our family, I want my husband to be the provider. (If it works the other way around for you, or if you both work, great! So many options!)
I want to be allowed to stay home for as long as I want. I'm willing to make economic sacrifices to do it. In fact, I should not have to go back to work (if I don’t want to). I’m grateful that I have the choice and right to work. But you know what? It’s a man’s world, and I’m tired of hitting my head on the glass ceiling.
There are many times when I should have stopped looking at Facebook, and played with Legos. But it's not my job (as a stay-at-home mum) to entertain Mr 4 every minute, or even all that much. (If you think providing entertainment all the time is right for you and your kids, it is cool with me, and I tip my hat to you.)
My writing has been a problem in every Relationship that I have ever had with a man. My men didn’t like what I was writing about, or they thought I was spending too much time on it. Or they thought I should be sharing it with people, or not sharing it with people. Clearly, I was not dating the right men.
Edited to add. I want to delete this post. Next time, I will write something funny.
I'm a fan of melodrama. (Can I say that?) Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind is so subversive. It is one of my favourite books. The movie may be better than the book.
When I was a girl, Scarlett O’Hara was a big influence on me. (This is probably unfortunate.) I loved Scarlett's selfishness, and how she tries to control her sexual and economic fate. (Just as women struggle to do today.)
The story about Scarlett’s crush on the unavailable Ashley is popular for the same reasons why He’s Just Not That Into You was a bestseller. (In my formative years, a book like He's Just Not That Into You would have been helpful.)
And when I was older, I realized how dreamy Rhett is. (In a lusting for an alpha male way.) I empathized with Scarlett, especially when Rhett says one of the most memorable lines in literature (“Frankly, my dear...”).
But of course Scarlett can’t be allowed to get away with threatening gender roles and the status quo. Just like in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, Scarlett the woman must be put in her "place". This is another reason why Gone with the Wind remains so popular.
I still admire Scarlett’s tenacity. For years, I lived by her mantra.
I'll think of it tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.
Gone with the Wind was published in 1936. It is more about the prevailing attitudes of the 1930s than those of the Civil War. We still are grappling with the issues that are raised in this book. Can women take control of their sexual identities? Can women be wives and mothers, and also have a career?
I'm not a fan of Sarah Palin, and I might be stretching with this comparison. But just think about this. Palin is like a present-day Scarlett O'Hara. She is a beautiful, selfish, tenacious woman. She had lots of suitors (the Republican nomination). Now she has gone to Fox (Atlanta), to seek her fortune, and some day, probably after a traumatic event, she will need to return to Alaska (Tara).
Some people complain that the portrayal of African Americans, especially in the film, is racist, but the story needs to be considered within the context of its time. Just like Shakespeare, or any great literature.
Here are some stunning photos from the film:
Followers are a blogger’s street cred.I was following a lot of blogs. A lot. And they didn’t follow me back. This hurt me. So I clicked “unfollow”. It's like they didn't even want me to succeed.
I need you to follow me. Because I really need more followers. See over there, where the little heads are? That number is too low. I am embarrassed. I need you to click on Follow This Blog. That number needs to be much higher.
For (ahem) my book deal.
Follow me, and I’ll follow you. It’s a win-win, even if you don't have a blog.
Edited to add: Do I need to bribe you with some junk from my house? Just say the word.
Edited again to add: I still subscribe to hundreds of blogs in my reader. And I'm thankful for all the little heads who are following me. Are you sure you don't want some junk from my house?
Edited again to add: If you want, you can follow me anonymously. I won't even know it's you.
Edited again to add: Just follow me, dammit.
You see, I am just now getting over The Worst Yeast Infection Ever. (American for thrush.)
I never used to get yeast infections. But when I fell pregnant, my vagina and I were invaded by thrush. And since the child was born, once or twice a year, my vagina and I have been plagued by that uninvited guest. Thrush.
I know I don’t eat enough yoghurt. Don’t judge me. My new year’s resolution is to take acidophilus tablets. This is great. Until now, I didn’t even have a new year’s resolution.
So I’m going to take acidophilus tablets. And not just for a week or two, like before. Because my vagina and I don't want to go through this again. Ladies, I took to my bed. And not in a sexy way. I did not have a man cold.
While I was lying in bed, airing out my vagina, I did what any of us would do. I consulted the internet:
Most yeast infections are treatable and result in minimal complications such as redness, itching and discomfort.Minimal? Obviously, the person who wrote this web MD crap is a man. Itching that makes me want to rip off my labia is not minimal. Discomfort that makes it impossible to walk around (without moaning in agony) is called pain.
My mother used to tell me I have a low pain threshold. (I do.) But my mother could be a Scientologist. All I have ever done is push a child out of my vagina, without drugs. And so what if (after 40 hours of labour) I really wanted the drugs? It was too late. Anyway, I found out my pain threshold is much higher than my mother thought. Or I am stupid for not demanding drugs sooner.
I digress. My point is, a yeast infection is not a man cold. If men had vaginas, their yeast infections would require painkillers, and a possible hospital stay. They would not need to insert messy gloop into their vaginas, and then just get on with things. And they wouldn’t bother with homeopathic remedies that might (or might not) work. In a month.
Like this homeopathic solution that the Internet recommended:
Apply yoghurt to the areas affected by the irritation.
Let's get real. I guess I should be thankful I can buy a thrush remedy over the counter. My vagina and I are now basking in almost yeast-free comfort.
P.S. Look out for my upcoming posts: Men and Menstruation—If Men Had Periods, and More Men Should Wear Bras.
Me: I’m not going to watch the whole thing.
I have watched “Grease” so many times. One summer, when I was 11 or 12 years old, I watched it every day. I loved Australia’s Olivia Newton-John, as good girl Sandy.
Now I am hooked on Stockard Channing’s Betty Rizzo. I like when she sings “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”.
Last year, I only read a few books. My theme was (sort of) Books That Inspired Movies. Here are the top five books I read in 2009:
Persuasion. I really liked Emily Blunt’s performance in "The Jane Austen Book Club". In the movie, Blunt's character reads Jane Austen’s Persuasion. This is an unusual Austen novel, as it explores the protagonist’s inner life. If you have ever thought about “the one who got away”, this is a book worth reading.
What was the best book you read in 2009?
What do you eat when you are allergic to everything? Rice. A lot of rice. And probably white rice. (The child's skin does better with white rice.)
I could make risotto. But regular rice just seemed too complicated. (By this, I mean I didn't know how to make rice. Adam had to make it.)
So, Adam taught me how to make rice. Or Alison Holst did. (I think it was both of them.)
Long grain (white) rice
Boil 2 cups of water. (This is when an electric kettle comes in handy. Electric kettles are awesome.)
Put a medium-sized (not too big) pan on low heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of oil. (I like to use canola oil.)
Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of basmati or jasmine rice. (I don’t bother to rinse it first, but if you want to, go right ahead.) Stir until the rice is coated.
Let the rice mixture heat for about a minute. (Not too long, or you will scorch the rice and have to start over.)
Add your boiling water to the rice mixture. Put a lid on the pot, and leave it on low heat for about 18 minutes. You can check to make sure all the water has been absorbed.
Take the pan off the heat and leave it covered until you are ready to serve. Fluff rice with a fork.
(For the truly interested, check me out on Flixster--I'm a SuperReviewer!)
At Wellington Road, we just watch whatever is on telly. (Because we are tired.)
On New Year’s Eve, we ended up watching "The Wizard of Oz" (with Judy Garland).
I suppose everyone exposes their children to the magic of "The Wizard of Oz". But watching it through Mr 4’s eyes really was magical.
For example, Mr 4 thought it was funny to see individual things (like a cow) flying by Dorothy’s window in the tornado, and he picked up straight away that Miss Gulch is the witch. He thought the Munchkins were made of wood (No, honey, they were real people.). He tapped his foot to “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead”. He wondered with Dorothy which way to go on the yellow brick road (just before she meets the Scarecrow). And he loved what the water did to the Wicked Witch of the West.
"The Wizard of Oz" was released in 1939. When I was a kid, it was one of my favourite movies, and I have watched it dozens of times. I love the humour and the sense of menace, and also the glimpse of old Hollywood. I think this movie touches something primal in all of us.
From the antipodean perspective: when Adam was a kid, he thought Oz was in Australia!