Saturday, September 28, 2019

Sunday Selfie - Time - The Little Prince

I wrote this last night after a day of not doing much. I titled it "Fugit"

It is all about the time
that stretch between sprout and compost -
between droplet and the sea.

All about time...
The broom sweeps
the dust returns.

The pen scribbles racing against,
but keeping pace with,

Eyes closed-
blanket clenched -
waiting -
all about time.

I worked through several fairy/folk tale collections with my stuffie friends. So, two nights ago, I started reading The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). Last night, I came to this paragraph.

"The fact is, I don't want my book to be taken lightly. Telling these memories is so painful to me. It's already been six years since my friend went away, taking his sheep with him. If I try to describe him here, it's so I won't forget him..."


I found tears running down my face as I read that. That paragraph is not at the end of the book when we know where the Little Prince went and how he got there. No, it comes not all that far into the book, right before we learn of the Little Prince's journey through the planets.

I know how the book ends. I know why the narrator is in pain. And I know what happened to the author, He met the same fate as thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of pilots during WWII.

No wonder I cried.

Time. There is no chance to go back, no do-overs, no insight that allows a gunner to lower his barrel. Or a chance for a word to be unspoken. Or the joy of a pleasure to be lived again for the first time.

Time is funny - funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha. It can feel, as it did yesterday, that we putter to just fill up the time, "between sprout and compost". Then, we read something that shows just how active time is against us - taking our memories, our only defense against erosion.

Sit under the autumn trees tomorrow. Walk in the crisp leaves. If time is only that stretch between, fill it with images that will sustain you as you slide toward the end.

Love widely. Work for others. Play hard. Sing. Dance. Read.

Take that, Time. I can fill you to the brim.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Slay! Read this book.


I finished Brittney Morris's book, Slay, two or three days ago. I worried that I'd be at sea in this book because I am not a person of color - seriously, I am so very, very white that I have to be loud and silly just so I don't disappear -, a teen, or a gamer. Morris kept me afloat with her smooth narration.

So here's the story. After a few racist incidents on popular virtual reality-role play games, Kiera creates a game for people of color. The game is called "Slay" because of the double entendre of the word - to dominate, or to kill.  Players challenge each other to duels. Their moves are determined by cards dealt at the beginning of each duel and by their cleverness in playing those cards. The cards all refer to Black American icons, heroes, and culture. Auntie's Potato Salad, anyone? Success or failure in the duels raises or lowers a player's status and can earn the player "coins".

Then, someone is killed over a misuse of "coins" and status, out here in the real world. Suddenly, the game is all over the news and Kiera - who has kept her identity as the co-creator of the game a secret from everyone around her -even her boyfriend, Malcolm, - hears the game vilified all over the media.  Life gets very interesting after this.

I mentioned this book in an earlier post and I mentioned that I was not happy with Malcolm.  Malcolm and his behavior make me sad. That is all I will say about that.

The book was an eye opener because of my demographic. Although every page showed me something new about gaming or color, even about teen life, I never felt excluded by Morris's prose. There is a universality about Kiera's desire to create something that shields her people from abuse, and in her horror that this creation is misunderstood. The arguments for and against allowing people of one group or another to have their own space are everywhere. Is it better for girls if we educate them without boys in their classes? Do Italian Americans need their own social clubs? When must these clubs, schools, activities be open to everyone? Discuss among yourselves.

One of Kiera's classmates is incensed that this game is closed to anyone who is not black. This limit, regardless of its intentions, even effects (is that the right word?) the game's co-creator who describes herself as bi-racial, though everyone around her thinks she's "African".

Race is a minefield. Morris points out so many different shapes of these explosives. Then, she leads the reader through the field with barely a scratch  - or with assumptions shattered.

Kudos, Brittney Morris, and thank you.

Note: I read a paperback advanced reader's copy that I picked up at The Book & Puppet Company in Easton, PA.  This book comes out on September 24th, 2019. Order it now. Just saying.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Remembrance - 9/11/01

I wrote this on September 12th, 2001. It was meant to soothe children when things - big or small - go wrong. The song does NOT address the event that evoked it.  I have no clue how to encompass the hugeness of that loss in a song. It has a melody to go with it.

When the world breaks in two -
now, I don't want to scare you
but skies always blue
are in stories alone -
well, you get out the glue and
you patch things together.
That's what you do 

when you have to move on.

Though your life's rearranged
and your smile may falter,
The stars will still shine in the sky.

With a crack in your heart,
or a scratch on your finger,
toys all in parts
or a friendship gone wrong -
Morning will come and
you'll pull it together.
One step at a time, you'll go on.

When the world breaks in two,
with my love as the glue,
you'll get by.

Authors try to help kids process big events.  Here is a list of books written about the terror strikes on 9/11/2001.

Remember. Look for the helpers, as Mr. Rogers' mother always told him. And whenever you can, be a helper.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sunday Selfie

I spend the week between the young and the old.

My mother called me last Sunday when she got stung by a hornet. She was fine except for the pain She called the doctor - my brother - so I got to talk to him when I got to the house.

On Tuesday, she got an odd message when she tried to pay a bill online. I went over and called the bank for her because I know the "trick" of getting a human to answer the call. Mom did everything right. But now, she knows why she got that message.

We went greeting card shopping on Thursday. So many people have birthdays, need condolences or reassurances. Then we picked up Gramps (my hubby) and went out to lunch.

Yesterday, we played Scrabble. I have been winning lately but only by a few points. I relish those wins. My Mom still plays a mean game of Scrabble.

She'll be in upstate NY this week with my brother, the doctor. She left this morning. I already miss her.

My granddaughter, on the other hand, is still in town. (She lives nearby.) She slept over last Saturday. We did not get to sleep until midnight and it was NOT her fault.

On Tuesday afternoon, we picked her up from school and for an hour and a half she played with me.

We pretend to text various stuffed animals when Gramps drives us to D's piano lessons.

D likes to mix things together - like glue and peanut butter - to see what happens, usually with no rhyme or reason. I'm a Nana so that's ok with me.

I let the toys lie where they land for a full day before I pick them up. These days will pass too quickly.

The resemblances between these two ladies fill me with awe and with melancholy. They both live life with joy, laugh at mistakes, worry about changes. One smiles because her life is full of memories. The other smiles because she has so much to do.

Today, after worship, someone asked me how I spent my summer. I told them I spent it with these two awesome people.

"One will grow up," I said. "One will leave me forever. I hope they stagger these huge changes so I don't find myself bereft all at once."

As the days shorten, I am grateful that I still have my mother. I rejoice in my granddaughter. And I appreciate the others, the quiet steady ones, my husband, my son and his wife, who stand by.

Friday, September 6, 2019

A Week of Books

Went to the library. Most of the books I wanted were not there.  Came home with three books.

Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse by Susan Vaught.  Neurodiversity plus small cute dogs plus bullies plus new kid in school plus deployed parent plus mystery involving at home parent plus tornado. It all adds up to a fast-paced awesome read.

Sea Sirens by Amy Chu. There is colorful and graceful artwork in this graphic novel I am still reading because I get distracted by all the pictures and my visual literacy is not the best.  Storms and dementia add texture to the story.  I will tell you more later.
So pretty!

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell. I finally read this graphic novel about  kids who spend their summer making costumes and acting out their favorite characters. The kids don't keep to gender lines in their play. Each chapter is a different child's story. Problems abound and problems get solved with imagination and fun. I miss this kind of summer and hope that neighborhood like this exist everywhere.

And then I  read some of the books I bought. Let's start with the book I bought for the subtitle.

Shipwreckers: The Curse of the Cursed Temple of Curses (or We Almost Died. A Lot.)  by Scott D. Peterson and Josh Pruett.
This is the first in a proposed series. Lots of puns, lots of death-defying escapes and traps and jungle animals of the fatal kind. This will be an action packed, fun, pun filled cinematic roller coaster ride of a series. It should be a little shorter. Just saying.

Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt.    On the first day of middle school during a horrific rain storm, Carter Jones opens the front door to find a butler - a true English butler - standing on his doorstep.  The book has a Bentley, a deployed father, flashbacks to an Australian rain forest, and...CRICKET!!  After years of Lord Peter Wimsey's saunters on the cricket pitch, during which I despaired of figuring out the game, I think it might even make sense. I have been enlightened, and the game is so much more than a cucumber sandwich and endless runs.
Cricket is just a metaphor for the family drama that unfolds. I need someone to talk to about this wonderful book.

Update: This post was started a few days ago.  More reading has happened. I started Slay by Brittaney Morris. (due out toward the end of the month). Reading takes us to unfamiliar places and stuff we are not always aware of - or aware of only peripherally. One of only four black students at a upper middle class high school, Kiera hides the fact that she developed the online virtual reality, role playing game, Slay, from everyone around her. When a player is killed right before his appearance in a tournament online, Kiera's world tilts. That is where I am right now!
Just one thing.  Please don't hate me. But Malcolm? Um, no.
So far, the book is a page turner.

Every now and then I read a book that I download from various "cheap e-book sites", like Early Bird Books or Riffle. I especially like mysteries and non-fiction for adults like me.

Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson. Charles Oakes is dead. His father suspects foul play. So, he calls Frank Malloy, a private detective, to find out what happened. Malloy gets help from his fiancee, widow Sarah Brandt. Set in NYC 20 or so years after the Civil War, the mystery is full of period details about lifestyles and social justice issues. It was edifying - also a good mystery and a new series to fill my vacation or escape reading needs.