Friday, May 21, 2010

what's a girl to do!?

" Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, "She doesn't have what it takes." They will say, "Women don't have what it takes. "
~Clare Boothe Luce

I do not have a sister. I am the oldest of my close cousins and therefor I never really had a close female bond with anyone my age. I was however, close to my mother, my grandmother and my aunt Julie. So in some ways I can very much relate to Dinah's upbringing. Like Dinah I had the influences of older women and I believe that helped shape me into maturity maybe a little faster than I might've otherwise. It also forced me to think for myself and about bigger things.

The one continuous truth throughout the book The Red Tent is the bond of women. In an interview Diamant says "many readers say that they love the book because of the way it affirms the essential DIGNITY, POWER and INTEGRITY of women's lives." I had to quote her on that because I couldn't have said it better.

We, as women, all have the same thing in common no matter what. All women everywhere are connected by this simple fact; that we give life. Throughout Dinah's story what keeps her going are the women and the bonds they form; the unity of their togetherness.

The second truth I notices about her book is the changing times. In the beginning she tells the story of the mothers and how The Red Tent is a place to celebrate being a woman. As the story progresses the tent is lost on other culture. Women are seen as weak for bleeding. Their time is not celebrated, instead it is an inconvenience and young girls coming into adulthood are cast out to deal with this newness on their own.

In the beginning of the story men and women do not eat together. They do not talk to one another casually either. As the family moves from place to place and Dinah ages, they encounter other cultures. Men and women begin eating together and even working near each other in the same fields. This signifies the changing times. Feminists & women's groups discuss this book becaue it illistrates the way the world has changed and how women eventually became involved in the lives of men.

This book is based in a different time, but the changes it went through are changes that we are seeing today. And that makes The Red Tent a timeless book. The world will always be changing.

Diamant states that we have started to notice the silences in the Bible like Dinah's. Even the women whoare prominently featured are not discussed in great detail. This is true for many of the male characters in the Bible as well, but more so for the women. The point is that people are starting to notice the silences.

While the integration of women into the workplace and other such areas of the world is definately a positive thing, I think we as women have lost our connection. Being a women is seen as a weakness to many an organization. And as women trying to fit in with the men we shun our female counterparts and our very natures, in order to be more like the men. We don't need to but we feel that if we put aside our gender that we will be more valued to a company. But then we are expected to come home and be a woman again.

People tell us that forming women's groups is making us into victims. I believe that it depends on what goes on in those groups. If it's a bunch of people getting together and whining then yes, that is being a victim. But getting together to learn from other women is not a bad thing! We know that men and women are wired differently. Why are we trying to force the femininity out of our lives? Why don't we use it? We can learn from other successful women how to use our different thinking and problem solving styles.

Ladies Who Launch claim that women are not linear thinkers. We think in circles. Everything connects. You see a commercial, which reminds you of a friend, which reminds you of a conversation, which reminds you of a business idea... men don't think the same way. Nobody is wrong, we're just different. Why not celebrate it.

It's a complicated world we live in and we women have a lot of shoes to fill. We take these issues and work them every day. We are mighty.

"I am woman! I am invincible! I am pooped!"
~Author Unknown

what is your opinion on women's groups? does it make you uneasy to think of being part of one? If the answer is yes, why is that? Have you had unsavory experiences with women's groups?

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Gargoyle - a book review

"You'll swoop from incredible highs when you're just glad to be alive, to those lows when you wish you were dead. And just when you start thinking that you've accepted who you are, that changes, too. Because who you are is not permanent"
— Andrew Davidson (The Gargoyle)
The Gargoyle is about redemption. It's about realizing that you are special no matter your past. It's about becoming a better person, taking joy in the people around you and valuing them. And in valuing them, valuing yourself.

Andrew Davidson writes a different story. The New York Times describes it as uncategorizable.

“only after my skin was burned away did I finally become able to feel.”
- Andrew Davidson, The Gargoyle

Now as I am writing this review I am trying to remember the main character's name. I cannot. The only name I can remember is Marianne Engle. This is just one of the interesting facets of this book. The narater is looking back on his life, telling you every nasty little detail; including the details of his accident where he was burned in a car fire. It's not pleasant, I'll tell you that much right now.

His story is raw. It is truthful and painful. And yet it is filled with undying love and tenderness.

This is one of those books that you don't forget. It's like 2 books within a book, but Davidson weaves them together expertly and keeps you engaged. Something I especially loved about The Gargoyle are the ministories about lovers in different cultures. I loved Davidson's skill at description. The little things all fit together, like a mystery or a puzzle. It's really a magical story that gets into your soul. It is beautifully molded and weaved by the author.

I feel that I must add that I did not read The Gargoyle from the the pages of a book. I listened to it on cd. It is narrated by Lincoln Hoppe. (He also narrated these books). Lincoln is also an actor and writer. I really enjoyed his narrating of the story. He got all the accents down pat which really made the book come to life. I don't know what the book is like to read from the page so I can't speak for that part, but I did enjoy listening to it on cd. If you find it hard to read I would suggest listening to it. It adds a little extra special touch and makes the book's difficult parts easier to follow. For example, when the author is talking about food, it makes it easier to listen to all the different types of food than to read them, at least I would imagine it so.
I think everyone can take something away from this novel. You will fall in love with Marianne in your own way. There is a spiritual element to the book that is written in such a way that whatever your faith it can fit into the pages of this story.

The Gargoyle is a beautiful love story told from the perspective of a broken person. I think you will enjoy it.

The Red Tent - religion & feelings

                  "Looking out of the red tent"

This would not be a good book review whatsoever if I failed to mention the controversies surrounding it. When I read it for the first time in college I recommended it to my aunt, who hated it. We never really discussed it much and what we did discuss I have forgotten. When I realized that there are people who disklike The Red Tent I tried to find articles or entries about why people dislike it so much.

Here is what I did find, as well as my own speculations about why people have unfuzzy feelings towards one of my very favorite books.


(please someone correct me if I am incorrect on any of my information regarding Diamant).
I didn't realize until I started researching that Anita Diamant is Jewish. She has been writing for 35 years. her fist book is called "The New Jewish Wedding"
She has written 8 other books dedicated to the Jewish faith and lifestyle. She didn't write The Red Tent until 1997. So she had a large Jewish following when she published this, her first novel.

I am not Jewish and know almost nothing about the religion, so maybe whatever Jewish parts that could have been going on in the novel definately went right over my head. Diamant did not write this book for any specific religion or with any specific agenda in mind, BUT, many Jewish readers are critical of some aspects of the book that they believe have been misrepresented.

Diamant says that several readers refer to her book as "midrash" which she describes as "creative biblical commentary". In other words, it's like an addition to the Bible that tells a story in a creative way or gives you other ideas to ponder. Diamant says her book is not midrash because it can be read with no knowledge of the biblical story. (of course in my opinion it adds to the joy of reading the book). Midrash reflects back on the original text. The Red Tent stands alone. Plus it is written about a character that is not well known. You can't really reflect much on her story.

Clergy , Rabbis, Ministers and Priests have used thos book as a teaching tool and a way to bring people back to the Bible by making it interesting. Showing them that these biblical characters lived like real people and making them come alive.

"The painful things seemed like knots on a beautiful necklace, necessary for keeping the beads in place."
— Anita Diamant (The Red Tent)

Religion is a very touchy subject. It is a personal thing. We hold it very dear to our hearts and no one better dare try to change our minds about anything! Anita Diamant takes liberties with this story. She takes the very limited information there is on this forgotten girl and tells what could have been her story. Some things may be true. Others not. I think what angers people is that when you read a story based on the Bible you expect certain things to be the same. Diamant changes things.

The main example of this is Dinah's rape. I don't want to ruin any of the story but it is written in the Bible that Dinah's brothers avenge her rape. However, Diamant sees this part of the story differently. Think about what is written, according to the Bible; the prince of the city of the city goes to Jacob and asks to marry Dinah. Jacob says no. The prince returns and Jacob (after speaking it over with his sons) tells the prince that in order for him to have his daughter as a wife all the men of the city (or palace) must be circumsized (according to the customs of Jacob's family). The prince is horrified but agrees. The men are circumsized and during the night while they are recovering Jacob's sons murder every man in the city. (or at least in the palace). The details of this story didn't sit right with Diamant and she wrote the story differently. I won't ruin it for you.

I can see why some people would be upset by her changes. In the Bible, Jesus and God are the center of every story. That's what the Bible is about, right? Diamant's book focuses very little on faith. It hardly mentions God at all. This most likely angers a lot of people. But Diamant's intentions where not to focus on religion.

Look at it this way. We are told that Bible times are not different from today in regard to miracles. We read these remarkable stories and the preacher tells us that we can see miracles every day if we look for them. SO, if the Bible times are not so different then a lot of what Diamant writes is probably pretty accurate; at least in regard to daily living. She writes of Jacob's 4 wives. Since when is it okay to have 4 wives? Back then it was. And that doesn't make us mad. But I think seeing it written this way kindof puts in in our faces and makes us acknowledge that everything that happened back then wasn't always so noble and perfect, so maybe some other stuff that happened wasn't so noble and perfect either.

The women of the story did not worship God. I'm just guessing, but maybe the women of that time in that situation may not have been so informed or involved in Jacob's God. Maybe because their lives were so separate ( I mean, they didn't even eat together ). And since the book is written from the women's perspective there wasn't much of a reason to mention God or Jesus.

The biblical characters are not magical. They had real lives. It is shocking to us to read about them as having real emotions, fears, and mistakes and that probably makes us a little bitter because after hearing Bible stories we expect something different. Maybe it's because we think that stories based on biblical characters and in biblical times should talk more about God. The Red Tent does not really talk about God; at least not as a central character.

Does that makes us angry? Why do we get so bent up over religion?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May Maddness GOALS

Well it's that time again. Time to evaluate my goals and plan for the month. So depressing. I think I'm putting too much on myself. I made all these plans and then stuff comes up and they all go out the window. BUT I did make soooome progress! Let's review...

April's Goals
Call my IRA guy - well I didn't call him but I did send him an email.  Also I've been listening to Suze Orman's book, Women & Money. And therefore I have been working on refocusing my investment and money management goals and strategies. I did find out that my investment with Sharebuilder is not what it should be, which is not a fun thing to find out. But now I know what I need to do. Suze explains investment strategies VERY well. Although I agree more with Dave Ramsey's approach to debt management and wealth building, Suze explains investments better than he does. I could go on and one about this topic, but I will save it for another time and an entry of it's own because it deserves it.
I am calling this goal accomplished because I have done a lot of research on the topic even though I didn't actually talk to the guy.
Get those Recycle Bins - I put that one off AGAIN all the way up until May 1st! But I got it!!! I got a giant tub to put all my recyclables in.

Meet with the mover truck people - I did not do this at all. Ok, I called once but they didn't answer. I shall carry this one forward because I need to know how much money I need!

Practice 30 minutes of Calligraphy every day - Totally didn't do this one either. SHAME ON ME! I shall refocus my energy.

Go for a walk outside 2 nights a week - I'm not sure that I did it as often as I planned on but I did take several walks in the afternoons. Went on a long one lastnight actually. The weather is getting hotter and the house is stuffy so maybe that will drive us out of the house as well.

Get up early every Sunday morning - Nope. Didn't get that one done, BUT I did have this whole last weekend off, so the boyfriend and I went to the park on Saturday and did some biking, then on Sunday we went to the Shenandoah national park! We did a little hiking and a little biking. But now we know kindof what the area is like and what to expect. I would love to go camping up there or take a day hike sometime. I am calling this goal completed because while I didn't get up early every Sunday we did do a lot of things outdoors together and made good use of the weekend.

Read for 30 minutes to 1 hour every Saturday - Well now. My schedule got all mixed up the week after I planned this so I didn't have the time to really get this one accomplished. But I have been listening to books on cd in my car so I think that counts to some degree.
Like I said, I would post my thoughts on Freakonomics and I still plan to do so. Here is the link to the blog I previously mentioned if you should be so inclined to checking it out... 
Okay, having reviewed my goals I realize that I didn't do so bad after all!
Meet with the mover truck people - Even just giving them a call and finding out their price will satisfy me. I have a quote from UHaul but I think Budget trucks are cheaper.

Practice my calligraphy - Gonna try to do this at least 4 times per week for half an hour to 45 minutes. And this time I am going to make a callendar to keep track.

Find a good gym - I need to get into the gym. It's too hot to be doing any exercising outside on a regular basis. This goal would also include finding a good place to swim.

Recycle! - I have my box, not I just need to make sure I'm putting all the recyclables in it, and that I'm taking it to the correct place.

Gardening - I would love to do a bit of gardening, even if it's just getting a few tomatoe plants on the patio. But I'm being realistic in realizing that I might not get this one done this month. But I would like to. I hear good things about those topsy turvey tomatoe plant things. They say you can put them outside. Perfect! DONT' BUY FROM THE WEBSITE THOUGH! They sell them in almost every store now. Target, Walmart, even Giant has them. Their website says &19.99 buy one get one free. They are $9.99 in stores. BUT you do have to buy your own dirt and your own plant.

Wanna be a proactive goal setter? Here's how it works...

Post a list in your own blog of your career/personal goals for the current month, along with your checked off goals from the previous month if you like.

Visit the Monthly Goal Meet-up Post at Brazen Careerist and post the link to your blog in the comments. (if you don't have a blog you can just post a comment).

Then check out other people's posts/blogs and see what they're up to. Read their comments, Leave your own, Check out other people's blogs, you never know what you might find! Support each other and get to know each other. that's what we're here for!