Though I was raised Catholic, I was an atheist for much of my adult life. When it occurred to me, one day, that so long as there might not be something greater than us, it may be equally plausible that there is something greater than us, I became an agnostic. My faith in a Higher Power – call that power God, call that power what you will – didn’t develop until I stopped drinking. I was told a Higher Power would help me stay sober, and that was true. I was told to pray and I would develop a stronger faith. I was told that the only barrier between me and the first drink was a Higher Power. This last assertion not only came to make more sense to me over time; it became what I can only call my proof of God. I deeply and firmly believe I could not quit drinking on my own, so there must be a Higher Power helping me. The conviction has often carried me through the tumultuous sea of doubt I otherwise face. I’ve never known whether or not I’m a Christian, per se – with so many religions in the world, it seems hubristic to claim that the one I grew up with is uniquely “correct” – but I believe there is some greater force to the universe.
A couple weeks ago, 1000 in a Decade, a blog intended to chronicle my efforts to read 1,000 works in a decade, was nominated for a Versatile Blog award. On the one hand, this award is fitting and deserved. Though I intended to write a lot about literature on this blog, it was always meant to encompass a hodgepodge of thoughts and ideas. And, inasmuch as I’ve posted on this blog – which, regrettably, is not much (I spend most of my time with Just Dread-Full, my horror blog), I have managed to accumulate a small amalgam of diverse posts. My posts discuss my favorite works of classic fiction, grapple with issues of body image in our culture, touch on current events, and, occasionally (well, so far only once) showcase a piece of clothing I’ve fallen in love with. To that end, yes, 1000 in a Decade is diverse.
Over ten years ago, when I was an unassuming college literature major in her junior year, I took a modernist literature course. It was a fantastic course in which we read a smattering of wonderful stories and poetry, including stuff by Jean Toomer, T.S. Eliot, Richard Wright, and William Faulkner. Modernist literature sits contentedly in a section of my heart, along with the beautiful local peninsula on a warm summer day and the people who mean the most to me in my life. But there was one work I read that semester that was particularly special to me, a work grappling with complex issues while remaining accessible, a work with a strong heroine who faces tremendous adversity and surmounts it, a work that celebrates the simultaneous wonder and pain, the joy and suffering, inherent in the human condition and living life – both on this earth, and as an African American woman in early 20th century America. It happens to do a fine job examining race relations and difficult issues related to race in America in the 1930’s, too. And, as my blog post title might suggest, that work is Their Eyes Were Watching God, written by writer and anthropologist Zora Neal Hurston. I have loved this book for a very, very long time now, and will continue to love it for a long time to come. In discussing the novel, I will detail the plot (starting in the next paragraph), and I’ll ultimately have to reveal the ending to make the points I want to make, (but I’ll indicate when I’m about to do that). Continue reading
The first journal entry I ever wrote – that wasn’t an assignment for school – was about Macaroni and Cheese and Hot Dogs. I haven’t dined on this meal in over a decade, but it must have been a staple for me as a kid, ranking up there with grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup. The entry, of course was none too scintillating. In my gangly five-year-old handwriting, I eked out a few awkward sentences about my lunch. I imagine I was very satisfied with this entry, though I’ll never know for sure. After all, I don’t remember writing any of it; I have, now, only the remaining artifact – a smaller-than average journal with a maroon faux-leather binding, lined with gold and complete with a lock and golden-trimmed pages (both of which, I think, are a nice touch). Continue reading
After starting my horror blog, Just Dread-Full, and feeling the exhilaration of posting articles for the public to read and interacting with other bloggers, my experience with weight gain and body image issues propelled me to start this blog – 1000inadecade – about the literature I’m reading (I’m trying to read 1,000 works in decade) and about women and body image in contemporary society. I do, and always will, love horror, but there’s so much in this world to discuss; as an enthusiastic writer, sometimes my interests span beyond the horror genre.
I haven’t been posting on my 1000inadecade blog as much lately (though, after a hiatus, I’ve started regular posts on Just Dread-Full again), but occasionally, I will come back to 1000inadecade, with a book review or a commentary on a recent hot topic in current events. So I’ve decided to make the blog a sort of catch-all for my non-horror interests (with the intent of posting more regularly), and I’m including a post about a pursuit I’ve come to love more as the months have passed: fashion. At one point in my life this interest would have seemed silly and surprising: in my younger years, I prided myself (hubristically) on being a serious intellectual, a black shirt and jeans kind of girl who might enjoy a nice new outfit from time to time, but wouldn’t put too much time and effort into her appearance. But, as Bob Dylan says (albeit in a much more socially relevant context), The times, they are a-changin’.
The title to this piece is a lyric from The Shins, who peaked in popularity in the early 2000’s. I will admit, using the line to title a piece about those who condemn the mother of the recent Cincinnati Zoo tragedy is condescending and mildly incendiary. Rest assured, I know at least logically that the human beings behind this tiring vitriol are, indeed, human beings with their own complex views and perspectives on life, and I don’t deny that many of them feel genuinely upset, even outraged, over what happened to the four-hundred-pound male gorilla a few days ago. In some cases, I think raw emotion fuels the (often scathing) condemnation of a human being who made a mistake – no matter how unthinkable and unorthodox, how stupid, the mistake may seem to many out there, especially to mothers who care for children every day. But after reading so many articles condemning the mother, so many articles about people condemning the mother, and so many caustic comments in the comment sections of various websites (yes, I have an unhealthy addiction to comment sections), this bit of song lyric has been nearly sputtering in my head on repeat. These commenters, who weren’t present, who have (in most cases) no concrete knowledge of the Cincinnati Zoo, its layout, and the potential logistics behind the sad accident, start to sound like squawking birds to me. Continue reading
What I love about literature are the little insights and mantras a reader can gain from a particularly striking piece. You know: Love prevails, nice guys finish last (or, hopefully, first), everything turns out all right in the end, and then my personal, most recent favorite: don’t wait a minute to bury your dead, especially if you lack embalming fluid and a skilled undertaker. For, if you do, you may end up dragging a stinking corpse across the country in a wooden box surrounded by hungry buzzards, stirring up havoc for everyone who encounters you. Blech. I love As I Lay Dying because it is an ironic, almost inverted quest, a grand journey to a hole that could be dug, almost anywhere, to deposit a body nine-days rotten that has no knowledge of where it’s being dispensed anyway…maybe. Maybe the body has more life than we think? That’s possible. But the beauty of this tragi-comedy of errors is that the body is, in a way, the focal point of the book; the entire book’s plot is structured around hauling a decaying body across townships to bury it in a town called Jefferson. Continue reading