Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday reading

Odilon Redon, The Birth of Venus, 1912

It's a gray morning in Los Angeles, and I'm lying in bed, nursing a cold and reading. Sophie is in her bedroom, humming and messing around with her things, the boys are out with The Husband getting haircuts and breakfast -- please, take them out! I pleaded earlier, before you go to work or they'll drive me crazy! If it weren't for the nagging guilt I perpetually feel to do something with Sophie, I'd feel perfect. The issue of The New Yorker that I'm reading is the kind that you can literally read from cover to cover without skimming the boring things. I enjoyed Adam Gopnik's comments about the Petraeus scandal, admittedly because they confirm my own iconoclastic feelings (who gives a damn about who is sleeping with whom, even if they are spies?) and I loved the short article about actor Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad and now Argo fame. Some of you might remember my obsession with the first four seasons of Breaking Bad, which I watched in bed, alone with my Kindle Fire, while my husband's business detonated, leaking into our personal life. I got it -- the breaking bad part -- and am thankful that watching the show was a substitute for any over-the-top actions on my part. I read a horrifying article about a Korean American woman who allegedly damaged a baby in her care and was sent to prison. The article was written by her grown son, and I don't know if it was well written or just seductively ambiguous. That article was followed by a very long one about The Grateful Dead, and while I did skim part of it, I was plunged in memory to my college days when I hung out with a group of boys attached to my boyfriend who carted around suitcases full of bootleg Dead tapes, tapes that they'd listen to while smoking pot out of bongs while watching Tar Heel basketball with the sound off. I didn't smoke much pot and really only enjoyed the more commercial Dead songs -- Ripple, Brown-Eyed Women, Scarlet Begonias, Box of Rain, etc., but I did enjoy those boys and their shenanigans. Those memories segued into the ones of my evangelical friends in college, a group of girls who went to Bible studies and had personal relationships with Jesus, even praying to him for good grades on history exams or resolutions to relationship problems with boys. I loved these girls, most are still my friends, thirty years later, and I gamely went to a few of their meetings. I even went to hear the Reverend Billy Graham speak in a stadium and was a tiny bit caught up in the fervor of giving one's life to Christ, but in the end, love and lust won out and I always felt like an outsider with very inchoate beliefs. The article about the controversial evangelist Rob Bell who preaches in a church with ten thousand worshipers was well-written but left me shaking my head, again, at human intention and need. People whose beliefs are that strong and unwavering about anything make me feel intensely lonely. I'm moving on to the fiction, movie and book review that are next. I hope ya'll are having a good end of Thanksgiving week day.


  1. It's so funny. When I read the New Yorker, I wonder if you've read this article or that one. And if you liked the fiction, etc.
    Some issues are definitely more worth reading than others and this most recent one was a good one. I agree. I even read the Dead article although I never did like them very much. I had a boyfriend who was a MAJOR deadhead AND a dealer and there was a lot of bong activity going on. That was a very low point in my life. Then I actually went to see them. The Dead, that is. God. I hated the whole experience although there was this woman in the parking lot who kept going on about the Yucatan Peninsula and how magical it was and damn! She was right! I think of her often.
    Sorry. I'm rambling. I've been drinking coffee.
    Get better soon.

  2. I had Sunday breakfast with my buddies as per usual and then saw Lincoln, which I thought very good.

    Now I'm nestled (hiding?) in my rooms listening to jazz whist the folks upstairs are heavily engaged in their football game. Dinner time it will be basetball. I shall return to my lair for my supper.

    Take care of that cold -- rest and liquids seem to be the best thing.

  3. Such a satisfying post. It was like the type of conversations I have with my sister. Just catching up. No need to respond. We mostly agree on the big stuff - husbands, religion, writing, and kids.

  4. I went to Dead shows in the womb. Some songs get a little too jammie for me, and there've been plenty times when the band's been painfully out of key, but i'm a fan. I like pretty much anything you can dance to, and that does it for me.

    Faith is complicated. I went to a funeral for a friend of mine, and one of our mutual acquaintances remembered me as the good "Christian girl".

    I've tried to find that faith again since, but i can't digest it the way i used to. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and a knot in my stomach, like i lost the enzyme or something.

    There's too much conflict with my incontrovertible feminist and humanist positions. It's exasperating having to leave your brain and self-worth (as a woman) at the door every time you go to worship in a church.

    Maybe the Bible is a fine vessel to stow one's eggs of faith in, and i'm missing or forgetting something i used to see in it. Currently though, i'm going for a basket that is less fallible than a bunch of paper, ink and words.

    Even if it is an amorphous basket of love and compassion and truth and all-one and some we-don't-knows. I'll fall on a blob of that ish any day.

  5. I love issues of The New Yorker that flow so smoothly -- though normally I wind up skipping several articles in any given issue. (And I ALWAYS skip the fiction, which I know is really terrible of me, especially since I like fiction in novel form.) I read an issue this week that I found very interesting -- the one with Kalefa Sanneh's profile of Kid Rock? Great stuff.

  6. "People whose beliefs are that strong and unwavering about anything make me feel intensely lonely." I used to have such beliefs, until I knew people with the same "unwavering" beliefs that were in direct opposition to mine. Then I was faced with one burning question: Whose unwavering beliefs are correct? The answer, of course, is no one's and everyone's, beliefs are just that: beliefs. Truth is another matter entirely.

  7. I feel like i am on the couch across form you, flipping through another issue and chatting occasionally. your writing is just so rich.

  8. The world is made right when I can realize that there are others out there who enjoy Breaking Bad and the New Yorker and feel guilty about their parenting and who think it is utterly ridiculous that someone should lose their job for sleeping with someone they aren't married to.

    Thank you.



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