Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Caucasia Thoughts

This book is...different. As a small white female growing up in a typical Christian family in McFarland, it's hard for me to even begin to comprehend what Birdie has gone through. Where Birdie's parents are divorced, mine are still together and have the loving kind of relationship I want to have with my future husband. Where Birdie never sees her father and sister, I see both of my parents almost every day, and see my siblings almost as often. Where Birdie fights with her mom all the time, I get along very well with all of my family. Where Birdie has been faced with racial persecution on numerous occasions, and had to deal with racism, the greatest persecution I've faced so far is for being short, which isn't really all that bad since I don't really care about that. Where Birdie has been repeatedly uprooted and moved from place to place I've lived in McFarland my entire life. Where Birdie drinks and smokes, and her friends do likewise, my friend group and I have always avoided these habits.

The point is, this book isn't very relatable to me. I don't know what it's like for every adult character in my life to be a creeper, or what it's like for Birdie when a lot of that other stuff happens to her. However, this book is still extremely well written, and despite the fact my innocent and probably naive little head can't wrap itself around the idea of facing the issues that Birdie has, I can still feel for her and connect with her. That's really what makes this book so good. Birdie and I have almost nothing in common, outside of our age groups, but Danzy Senna has an amazing talent for connecting us to the feelings of rebellion or angst or sadness or happiness that all teens are at least on some level familiar with. I can't imagine running away from home, but I can relate to Birdie's frustration on a small level. I would never go out and get wasted on the weekend, but I can understand Birdie's want for social interaction. That's really the key to being a good writer: putting relatable characters in non relatable situations.

I have a really really good life that's never been anywhere near as chaotic as Birdie's, for which I am eternally thankful, and I know a lot of kids, even ones from McFarland face some of the problems that Birdie has in her life, but I think the point is, Danzy Senna can let even kids like me see what's it's like to be in somebody else's shoes, if only for a moment, and that's what's so cool about her writing.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Motif of Dogs and Contrast

I don't know if I'm the only one who notices this, but there seems to be a lot of talk about dogs in Caucasia. The book talks about Puddn'Head all the time. Nick blames the sound from the back yard on Puddn'Head. Puddn'Head barking nearly gets Jesse thrown off of Mr. Pleasure. The dog is there when Jesse and Sheila try to buy the house. Jesse thinks that a dog is licking her when Nick starts making his nasty moves on her. It just seems like dogs are talked about a lot in this book. I'm not sure if this means anything bigger, or if it's just realistic for the family dog to be omnipresent. It just seems like the dog is there, or something about dogs, all the time.

Another thing I've noticed in this book is that Danzy Senna uses the negative a lot to describe positive things, or vice versa. For example, when she talks about the fallen leaves on her street in Boston, she refers to them as fallen birds' nests. Fallen birds nests are definitely not good, but the image is used to describe something pretty, and neat, and organized, which is pretty contrasting if you think about it. Another time is when she describes the red and blue "veins" across the map. The idea of veins is pretty primal, with blood coursing through them, constantly pumping and what not as veins are wont to do. It makes things seem alive, which is why it's so weird to describe a map, which is just a wrinkled piece of paper living in the bowels of the glove compartment. It's not exactly what one would think of when thinking about something that's alive.

These are just some things I've noticed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another Cool Writing--Make-up Post

This post is to make up for my absence in class on Monday.

I've decided to do a simple close reading on the song Turn by Travis. Travis is my favorite band, and I've listened to their music for years. I love almost all of their songs, but this one in particular, with Fran Healy's (the lead singer) desperate vocals and a smashing video (I'd provide a link if I could get to youtube on the school computers) really gets me.

Okay, so here's the lyrics:
I want to see what people saw / I want to feel like I felt before / I want to see the kingdom come / I want to feel forever young

I want to sing / To sing my song / I want to live in a world where I belong / I want to live / I will survive / And I believe that it won't be very long / If we turn, turn, turn / turn, turn turn / Then we might learn

So where's the stars? / Up in the sky / And what's the moon? / A big balloon / We'll never know / unless we grow / There's so much world / outside the door

I want to sing / To sing my song / I want to live in a world where I'll be strong / I want to live / I will survive / And I believe that it won't be very long / If we turn, turn, turn, turn, turn / And if we turn, turn, turn, turn / Then we might learn / Turn, turn, turn, turn / Turn, turn, turn / And if we turn, turn, turn, turn / Then we might learn / Learn to turn

Analysis: I think this song is talking about the infinite curiosity humans have. The word turn is kind of like a journey we take to learn something. We get a question, and then we look for the answer, and then we find it, and then we get a new question, always going in a circle from question to question and answer to answer.

Still, I think Travis also wants to show that the circles people travel in aren't always worth the time we put into them. The video really drives this point home. The video features Fran in the push-up position, trying to win a bet by staying that way until midnight. Then, when midnight comes, several hooligans come by chasing an innocent young man. Fran tries to help, but his muscles are so sore and tired from completing the bet that he has not energy to go help the young man. The money he gets from the bet looks like a waste in comparison to the safety of the man. Fran wastes all of his energy on something that doesn't matter and then has no energy for something important.

Holy Crap! I'm a Girl!

So, this is just another story about a time when I've noticed my gender in a particularly awkward way.

This one is about my self-defense class.

I used to take a self-defense class learning Commando Krav Maga.

For a long time, I was the only girl who went (and even then, the only other girl we ever got while I went was a married middle-aged woman) so it was really obvious when we would spar/train/etc. It was a blast and a half, and I greatly enjoyed the class, but I could tell that I was different. I was still treated as an equal however, as everyone who went there was a stellar person, but I learned different moves because of my build, both from being short and also from being female. It made for some awkward circumstances (learning how to escape a choke hold when someone is stradling you was particularly awkward), but it was actually a situation where being noticeably different didn't result in alienation or any negative feelings.

Anyways, that's just another way I notice being a girl.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A new sort of dictionary

Stemming off of a comment on a previous post, I have decided to catalog my new words, and the definitions I come up with for them. This post will be continually updated as I bring new words forth from that place in my head where definitions come from (now known as Hotarfes).

If I don't have a definition yet, I'll just put the word, so feel free to put up new (possibly better)definitions if I don't have one, or just if you have another one, I'll add it.

The dictionary has now been moved to the side of my blog (at the top of course) since this blog post keeps moving farther and farther down the page. Feel free to add definitions in whatever comment section you please though!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Just so you know...

I've decided that the random letters they make you type in whenever you post a comment often make awesome words. I've also decided it's important to share these new and unique words. Therefore, when I post comments from now on, I will include at the end, the word I must type to post the comment. I'm just tossing this out here now so people don't get confused as much, although it isn't really helpful to those who don't read my blog. I guess confusion is the price they'll have to pay for not checking it out (well, in addition to the intrisic loss of not reading my blog). Anyway, just wanted to let you know.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Interesting Conversation

So there are a lot of things in Slaughter House Five that remind me of The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. I feel like if Tim and Kurt had a conversation it would be really interesting, and seeing as Kurt is dead (for real this time), I think I'm just gonna have to improvise.

Tim: Hey Kurt, whatcha eating?
Kurt: Three Musketeers Bar.
Tim: I knew a guy who used to eat those all the time back in Nam. Said he used 'em to keep him mellow.
Kurt: What was his name?
Tim: Fred Periwinkle.
Kurt: Did they work? To mellow him out?
Tim: Yep, right up until the day he died. Shot in the head. Taking a whiz and then Boom down. He was gone.
Kurt: So it goes.
Tim: Yea, just Boom down.
Kurt: Wow, is that true?
Tim: Does it really matter?
Kurt: Nope.