Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Seven-ish Quick Takes

It's the seventh anniversary of Seven Quick Takes (which is not hosted at Jennifer Fulwiler's blog anymore, but I'm linking to her anyway), so in honor of the occasion, I'm tossing together all the quasi-posts I have sitting in draft.

1. I read Frankenstein several months ago when Enbrethiliel hosted her read-along, and although I found it compelling in many ways, I do have to concur with the raised eyebrow over at Yard Sale of the Mind:
OK: The monster not only is animated from dead people and cows and stuff, but he’s a athletic freak and a genius – because? There’s no healing involved in a creature pieced together like that, so that he’s ready to rumble right off the old animation table, not wracked by pain or failing apart or anything? In a couple years, he acquires a fluency and grace of language equal to that of a remarkably precocious 18 year old English woman? Note that I’m not mentioning anything related to the relatively primitive state of science in 1800 here, just more basic stuff. And some cottagers live adjacent to a 8′ tall Peeping Tom for a year, and just sort of miss it? Never once wonder about that lean-to right there? On notice the eyeball peaking in the room?  But hey, it’s still pretty good.
Let's not overlook the fact that in addition to creating and then abandoning his monster, Victor Frankenstein was a coward and a real prick to those who loved him.

Also, I think we can all agree that speculative fiction of many varieties can demand moral engagement from the reader by presenting new and strange dilemmas, but sometimes readers get so caught up in the novelty (OMG? What if machines have feelings?) that they forget their actual moral obligations to the real people around them.


I thought that I was going to have a revision of Stillwater completed by this weekend, but it isn't going to happen, and I keep putting off writing an explanation to the people I promised to send it to because my excuse is that I'm stripping wallpaper from the princess room. Stripping wallpaper sounds like a fake excuse, like scrubbing one's grout or washing one's hair, and yet it is a big messy labor-intensive project, even if most of it peels right off the walls in long satisfying strips. (I have no idea how old this paper is, but much of the glue has dried up nicely.) Where it holds, however, it holds fast. It takes a resolute arm and a patient grip to scrape it off the wall, but it's the sort of detail work I enjoy. And the soundtrack to Hamilton, absolutely unconducive to writing, is perfect for finicky non-creative work like de-papering.

3. I won't lie -- I love scraping wallpaper. It's instantly satisfying if you are the sort of person who used to pick the paint off of the picnic tables on the school playground or rub Elmer's Glue all over your hands so you could peel it off in one glorious layer (ca. 3rd grade). 

4. I scrape with such dedication because we have a guest coming at the beginning of November, and we want to have the princess room painted before then. (The princess room is where guests stay, because it's at the end of the hall and has its own bathroom. No royalty has actually ever stayed there, but there is an almost 100% likelihood that Herbert Hoover once slept in there. But would you rather stay in the Hoover room or the princess room? I rest my case.) On the home renovation front, we want to have the princess bathroom painted along with the bedroom (and if you saw the peeling paint in the shower, you'd understand), but before the room is painted, we want to have it wired for an overhead light (and if you saw how dark it is in there now with only the 20s-era pull-chain fixtures by the mirror, and only one of them working, you'd understand). Wiring requires an electrician to go in from the crawl space in the attic. The first guys we called came up, looked at the space, were very chatty about getting the work done, and then didn't even bother to send me an estimate. If you have to ask, you can't afford it? I hope not -- we can barely see in the bathrooms. We might as well be showering by candlelight.

5. A month to strip wallpaper doesn't seem like such a long time, until you factor in that Darwin is going to be traveling for business two weeks out of the month, and so I'll be running the show by myself. Every time he has to travel, I think that I'm going to be so organized and in control -- after all, without him around in the evenings, I don't have anything to distract me from working, right? And on the first day he's gone, we have dinner early and the kids go to bed on time. The second day, the schedule slips back. By the day before he gets home, we're eating pizza and going to bed at 10:00. I don't know why I imagine it would be easier to be more virtuous and efficient without him, especially as the point of marriage is mutual help. I'm not a better person when he's not here.

Unfortunately for me in a month where my husband is gone about 40% of the time, we've also picked up several activities that require me to drive people around at various times during the week. So far it's Thursday of the first full week in October, and I haven't missed anything yet (except an orthodontist appointment first thing on Monday morning, which I wrote down on the wrong calendar). But I feel like things could go into the weeds if I don't stay on top of everything. So I'm making lists to keep my schedule from overwhelming me.

Sunday: 12:15, Mass (some weeks I cantor); 3:45-5:15, religion class at church (older four; I teach 7th grade)
Monday: 11:00-12:00), film class (Eleanor and Julia; 6:30 Cub Scouts (Jack)
Tuesday: 2:30-5:00, Drama (Eleanor and Julia, maybe Isabel if they need extra people); 4:30-5:15, Ballet (Diana); 5:15-6:00, Tap (Eleanor and Isabel); 7:00-8:30 German (the whole family)
Wednesday: 11:30-12:30, lunch at the park with friends
Thursday: 10:00-12:00, piano lessons (big four, but the teacher comes to our house); 2:30-5:00, Drama (Eleanor and Julia); 5:50-7:20, Ballet and Pre-Pointe (Julia)
Friday: 2:30-3:15, Schola (whenever I scrape up the fortitude to send out the email and start directing it again); various Friday nights, youth group activities which require a large driving commitment
Saturday: Get out of my hair.

If I do not have dinner precisely timed on Tuesday, everything will implode. If we do not have a sufficient amount of lessons under our belt before we leave the house on Monday and Wednesday, education will implode. If I do not sit and down and stare at the wall for a bit after teaching religion class, I will implode. My youngest two (5 and 21 months) are not reliable about feeding themselves and need to be managed so that they do not implode. My oldest three (all females) implode every 26 days and make the house a battle ground, and if I forget where we are on the calendar, I don't head these off these cyclical meltdowns the right way to maintain peace in the house. 

6. You guys. I have wasted vast amounts of time over the past two months, time when I could have been writing or peeling wallpaper or checking Facebook, watching Key and Peele.

7. And this one.

8. And Meegan.

9. And high on potenuse.

10. And Star Wars.

11. And Les Miz.


Meredith said...
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Agnes said...

It seems to me that Stillwater is the one thing that will not implode on you if you leave it alone for now (see, I learned a new word this morning :-) ), and so I quite agree with your priorities (except I don't share your enthusiasm for peeling off wallpaper).
Very interesting activities list. I almost didn't believe my eyes to see that you direct a schola and cantor at Mass. Another interest we share (although, for now, I can't take up this kind of commitment).

Brandon said...

Driving all over creation certainly does add to a schedule, both in terms of how much time evaporates and how hectic it feels. Fall term is always my busiest term and a major component of that is that I am more spread out and so driving more. It chops up the schedule and eats up more time than you ever expect. And you're always having to time things more carefully to avoid being late.

The Lando one is hilarious.

Joseph Moore said...

Never heard of Key & Peele before - the Thug and Les Mis crack me up. Creative geniuses. Sent the link to my theater-experienced daughters.

The disappointing thing about reading the old Sci Fi classics is the distressing social assumptions most of them make. Not only does Shelly set loose a monster very much in sync with the monstrous Romantic lives she and her buddies lived, but Wells throws up as admirable insect-like socialists (is there any other kind?) and, in general, the view seems to be that things would be fine is only we'[d put the smart people in charge and get out of their way - the basic political philosophy echoed in everything from Star Trek and Hope and Change.