12.11.2007

Thoughts of the Month

Sometimes the human brain gets so full that it might consider reversing Number Five's cry of "Input, Stephanie, input!" to "Output!" I hit that point about two weeks ago. Too bad it wasn't tonight, as I might have had more mental energy that way.

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Bella came to town last week and Lou and I saw it. It made me cry. It took me about three hours afterwards to figure out what all was going on, as past and present and future appeared intermittently throughout the story. But it was a good story, and well acted. I really have to compliment the cinematography too--I loved the way they filmed it. As a drama, I found it pretty emotional and one scene was really hard to watch, but I'm glad I saw it. At some point I'll have to watch it again; it seems like the kind of thing that one gets more out of with a second viewing.

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Dan in Real Life made me snicker, but if I wasn't the only one who caught the Harry Potter reference, then at least no one else snickered aloud. It's in there. I promise--you can look for it. But if you have the choice whether to see Dan or Bella, see Bella, because that's a better movie. I liked Dan in Real Life, especially since it was part of a hang-out afternoon with Dad. But seriously--when did tempestuous, tantrum-throwing, nonsensical teenage infatuation become the standard for romance? I'm not talking about the precocious adult-in-a-teen-body thing that Disney usually tries to pass off as reality. I'm talking about a bratty, rebellious fifteen-year-old acting like a bratty, rebellious fifteen-year-old and getting held up as a good example. That just did not seem believable to me.

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Usually I try to read one book at once and read it through. But lately I've had far too tall a stack to plow through it rhythmically and methodically, one at a time. This might have something to do with joining a book club. Or it might have more to do with the fact that not only did I join a book club, I asked my boss for recommendations, decided that I shouldn't own a Dickens book that I hadn't read, got intrigued while looking over Lou's shoulder at his book, got a book I'd long wanted to read as a gift from him on the anniversary of our first date, ordered two books from Amazon and swallowed them whole (not literally) ... and that doesn't include all the basic stuff that I might pick up just because I want to. The floor of my room now looks like a library exploded.

The Napoleon of Notting Hill, a Chesterton novel, made some hilarious and bizarre--but interesting and accurate--points about humor, passion and Chesterton's favorite target for his satirical efforts: the materialist philosophy. I love the way Chesterton writes. Every time I read him, I think "There goes a man who loves the English language as I do."

The Story of a Soul, autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, brought tears to my eyes about every third page. She was a little, cloistered Carmelite nun who begged the pope to let her enter the convent at a very young age--fifteen or sixteen--and she lived only to the age of 24. The simple pouring out of her heart into a few pages took her posthumously from unknown to international appeal; and reading it, I can see why. Her words continue to come back and convict me of my own selfishness and coldness. She expressed a love for Christ that one rarely sees the likes of in this world.

Dickens' Great Expectations left me with alternating opinions of how much I liked it. I wanted to smack the main character far too often for ease of reading. But he did eventually become the man he ought, and that helped. The "happy ending" that Dickens finally went with was certainly better than the original he penned, but I would have liked a little more of it :-)

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A few years ago, the understanding of the awful realities of uncertainty and suffering hit me at the very center of my heart. It wasn't a cataclysmic or tragic event, but I remember the day--a cold March or April day, gray and drizzly, floating in an orange raft on the Wenatchee river just above the low-head dam at Dryden. I never went near that dam--we were taught how to stay well away--but I knew the theory of what would happen to anyone or anything trapped in its power, and somehow the knowledge of the dangers of moving water connected in my mind with the fragility of life. It sounds clichéd to say that I have never been the same after that moment, but it is the truth of the matter.

A Dominican priest named Fr. Vincent Serpa, who appears now and then on one of the podcasts I listen to, recently prescribed a few minutes' daily meditation on the crucifix for help in the growing of faith. The thought of the crucifix often comes to mind since then. Yes, we need the empty cross, the knowledge that Jesus is risen. But nothing reminds or inspires me to accept my own suffering like the sight of that wasted, beaten body hanging by nails on wood.

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It's ten o'clock--time to give my unfortunate wrist a break and go read. Good night.

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