Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Book Report

I just finished reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. A couple of attorneys in my firm recommended it to me saying it was one of their favorite books. The book club also read it a few months back but it was in the middle of my wedding planning so I've only just now gotten around to reading it.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): In The Glass Castle, Walls chronicles her upbringing at the hands of eccentric, nomadic parents--Rose Mary, her frustrated-artist mother, and Rex, her brilliant, alcoholic father. To call the elder Walls's childrearing style laissez faire would be putting it mildly. As Rose Mary and Rex, motivated by whims and paranoia, uprooted their kids time and again, the youngsters (Walls, her brother and two sisters) were left largely to their own devices. But while Rex and Rose Mary firmly believed children learned best from their own mistakes, they themselves never seemed to do so, repeating the same disastrous patterns that eventually landed them on the streets. Walls describes in fascinating detail what it was to be a child in this family, from the embarrassing (wearing shoes held together with safety pins; using markers to color her skin in an effort to camouflage holes in her pants) to the horrific (being told, after a creepy uncle pleasured himself in close proximity, that sexual assault is a crime of perception; and being pimped by her father at a bar). Though Walls has well earned the right to complain, at no point does she play the victim. In fact, Walls' removed, nonjudgmental stance is initially startling, since many of the circumstances she describes could be categorized as abusive (and unquestioningly neglectful). But on the contrary, Walls respects her parents' knack for making hardships feel like adventures, and her love for them--despite their overwhelming self-absorption--resonates from cover to cover.
The story was very compelling for me. At times you feel like you want to jump through the pages and strangle these parents for being so negligent but at the same time, you develop compassion for them. I read a couple of chapters to Jericho. One described living in the mountains of West Virginia in a 3-room shack with no heat source and the other was about the narrator finding food for herself when there wasn't a morsel of food in their home. I asked Jericho what he thought and he said, "Why would you read that book? It's so sad." Then I read him a chapter about one Christmas when the narrator was a child and they lived in the dessert. Her parents never had money for presents so her father took each of the kids outside that night, one by one, and let them pick out a star as their present. It is bittersweet. That's the best way I can describe the book.

You feel anger and pity for the parents. You feel excitement for the children and for their ambitions and maturity. And also feel somewhat introspective of your own life and whether or not you'd have the gumption and perseverance to succeed if raised in such conditions. Jericho thinks we should read this book to our children when they're young to give them a proper perspective on life. Probably not a bad idea.

Overall, the book is well written. I'm not much of a memoir person but Walls is a great storyteller. It was a quick read without being overly simple. She illustrates her family members extremely well, especially her bohemian parents. You feel compelled to get to the end because all along you've been silently pleading that, after all the hardship, somewhere there is a happy ending.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mustang 101

Jericho and I were in a music store this weekend buying new drumsticks. Actually, Jericho was buying new drumsticks and I was pretending I knew how to play a djembe. The salesman told us that all the kits were on sale that day (4th of July sale) so I told Jericho that we should buy me a kit and we can have matching drum sets. He responded with, "You just want everything that I have!!" Apparently now we have sibling rivalry in our marriage.

This isn't the first thing that I have coveted. This weekend we also went to the National Mustang Show at the NC State Fairgrounds. As we walked around looking at the all the beautiful cars, I told Jericho that I wanted an old one too (but I want a blue one) and he can teach me how to fix it up and then we could have matching Mustangs. Wouldn't that be fun? I'm still trying to sell him on the idea.

The Mustang show (thanks to Trevor for telling us about it) was really cool. Being only a novice when it comes to Mustang appreciation, and still having a good time, I can only imagine how much fun Jericho was having. I love having him teach me about every minute detail that differentiates each of the cars. His knowledge continues to astound me. I looked up some comparable pricing for some of the cars that were there and some were in the 100k range. Good. Gracious. America sure loves their pony car. My camera died about half-way through our visit so I didn't get all of the pictures I'd hoped for. Here are a few.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Birthday America!!!

I love the 4th of July. I know this should go without saying but I love how patriotic it is. I love the fried chicken and picnics and beaches and fireworks. It's just so American!

Because we all had so much fun last year taking my 4th of July quiz, I decided to write another quiz on our nation's history. I tried to make this one a little easier but it's tough to know how hard/easy it is when I'm the one looking at the answers. So I apologize if this one ends up even harder than the last one. Since it has been a number of years since I took a US History class, all the answers can be verified through Wikipedia.

Happy birthday America and I hope everyone has a wonderful celebration this weekend!!

  1. The Star-Spangled Banner was a poem penned during what war?

  2. Revolutionary War
    War of 1812
    War of Northern Aggression

  3. Which of the following is NOT considered to be a "founding father"?

  4. James Madison
    Benjamin Franklin
    Abraham Lincoln

  5. Who was the first presidential assassination attempt?

  6. Andrew Jackson
    Abraham Lincoln
    George Washington

  7. The "shot heard round the world" refers to the opening battles of the Revolutionary War in what cities?

  8. Lexington and Concord
    Boston and Nantucket
    Jamestown and Williamsburg

  9. Which of the following is NOT a nickname for the United States flag?

  10. Old Glory
    Stars and Stripes
    Stars and Bars

  11. The Bill of Rights is... ?

  12. the first 10 Amendments
    the initial draft of what would become the US Constitution
    the basis that makes the ACLU a perfectly acceptable and effective civil rights organization

  13. Which baseball movie designates the 4th of July as the only day they can play a "night game" (b/c of the fireworks lighting up the sky)?

  14. Field of Dreams
    The Sandlot
    Bull Durham

  15. True/False: The 1812 Overture has nothing to do with American History.

  16. True

  17. The Declaration of Independence is kept in....

  18. The Smithsonian
    National Archives
    Nicolas Cage's jacket pocket

  19. What is the supreme law of the United States?

  20. whatever the president says
    whatever the supreme court says
    The Constitution

Click the link below to see how you scored. Don't worry, it doesn't get posted to me or anyone else. Only you see your results.

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