Monday, June 25, 2012

Recognizing Excellence in Writing

It took me approximately 1 hour to get through the first Twilight novel by Stephanie Meyer, and felt I should gouge out my eyes with a broach to adequately mourn the time wastefully spent skimming through page after page of trashy cliches and basically poor prose. In contrast, I spent 2 delicious hours savoring each word in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, a deeply beautiful novel that also caused me to mourn: not for time ill spent, but for the end of something so exquisite, so poignant and so beautiful that I wished to always be reading it. It is not ironic that I should so happily spend double the time reading a book of only half the length of Twilight:  it is simply the difference between good and poor writing.

Shakespeare is a fantastic standard in the English language for good writing. He unceasingly employs creative and exacting poetic devices that elevate his writing in a continuous upward transcendence. He does use cliche, but not generally speaking, and not as a fall-back tool of the trade. No. The Bard is much better than that.

Students, too, can learn to be better writers than a New York Times bestselling author! Student writing can be monotonous to read when poorly done, but it also can be a fantastic experience when students rise to the occasion and produce quality work.  I have noticed, while reading student essays, that a few always cause me to to pause and read a little slower. They make me think, and they have a funny sort of beauty, too. They use delicate and sometimes intricate figurative language, and they are rhetorically sound. Writing is nothing more than communication: the attempt of a thinker to transmit his or her thoughts to another. It is immediately apparent to a reader how much thought fueled the writing. The craftsmanship of the figurative language, the complexity of the thoughts, and the poetry of the two fused together make good writing unmistakable.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Sad Life in a Series of Disney Quotations

Lately I find myself easily comparing me to Jessie the yodeling cowgirl:
"When somebody loved me, everything was beautiful. Every hour we spent together lives within my heart." -Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl, Toy Story 2.

My main tactic for moving on with my life has been to just not think about the last year at all. The experience is way too much like the above quoted Sarah McLachlan song, and the truth is:

I am a desperately hopeless romantic.

I believe in LOVE. What can I say? I was nourished by Disney movies growing up, and now it's just too late. You are what you eat. I can't believe in love and let myself wallow in self pity, not this time. I can't be Mariana of the Moated Grange any longer, or say to myself, "Sometimes its better to be alone" (Megara, Hercules). 

"If there's a prize for rotten judgement, I guess I've already won that." -Megara, Hercules

I know that makes me old fashioned, but I really, truly believe in the kind of love that transcends time, space, and circumstance. I believe that there exists a love that embraces all my weird quirks and histories, and someday, when the time is just right, we will meet.

"¡Ven conmigo! ¡Te mostrarĂ© las maravillas de la galaxia, y juntos lucharemos contra el despiadado Zurg!" -Spanish Mode Buzz

It just hasn't happened yet. Until then, "I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now" (Edna Mode, The Incredibles).

"Go, confront the problem. Fight! Win!" -"E"

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Life Enrichment vs Life Sustaining

I have been thinking lately about what makes life worth living. Here is a short list:

  1. Ice cream. Any time, any where.
  2. Visiting the zoo.
  3. Watching a double feature at the drive-in movie theater with my friends, and making jokes that they laugh at, even though I'm not that funny, but feeling like Tina Fey because they laughed a LOT.
  4. Going for a long run or bike ride and feeling like I'm not running, but flying.
  5. Donuts at Grandma's house.
  6. Stopping at Little America for 50 cent cones after a long drive through Nebraska
  7. Walking through Mammoth Cave in Kentucky with my Dad.
  8. Listening to Shakira sing "Waka Waka" and convincing myself that she's talking to me, personally, and that the whole thing has nothing to do with soccer, or Africa, but everything to do with my life lately (Or as John Green would write it, My Life Lately).
  9. Reading a book by John Green, and realizing that even though he chose to be a writer instead of a minister, he actually is a minister, not a writer.
  10. Reciting "The Soldier" by  Rupert Brooke at work and replacing the word "England" for "Reptiland."
  11. Singing along to "Hotel California" with my sisters and brothers as I drive them somewhere, and realizing that my brothers and sisters are more awesome than I ever gave them credit for, because they already know all the lyrics.
  12. Watching "Little Women" and crying EVERY TIME when Beth dies.
  13. Finishing a large drawing of the solar system, and feeling a small portion of what God must have felt when he created the real solar system.
  14. Selling the book Verdi to a young mother who hasn't read it yet.
  15. Discovering that there is a new Avatar, and all of the first book so far is available on, and watching the first 3 episodes with my sisters!
I don't need to do any of these things. They are not requisite to survival. The same is true of many things: in fact, most of the things that make life worth living, I find, are not the things that make life possible to live.