Daily Archives: July 3, 2015

Andrew’s graduation

Yes, it seems like only last week we dropped Andrew off at Oberlin when he was a new student. I took photos and planned a blog post about it but waited too long and now he’s graduated. Time sure does fly!

andrew-clareAndrew graduated from Oberlin with honors of some sort. We even went to the home of the president of the school to celebrate his honor where we drank punch and ate fruit on sticks. Dean’s sister, Diane, was able to join us for much of the weekend.

Oberlin goes all out for graduation and invites several alumni back for reunions. Oberlin goes from a small quiet college town to a very busy place. It was even more busy this year because one of the graduation speakers was Michelle Obama.

We spent much of our long weekend lounging on the grass. The weather was perfect for that — although it became a little hot on graduation day. I thought I would be in mourning since I loved Oberlin so, but strangely I didn’t feel sad. It would not be the same without Andrew there, and I said my expensive farewell to Bead Paradise.

lightsMy favorite, and most anticipated part of the weekend was the illuminations in Tappan Square the night before the graduation ceremony. It did not disappoint.

The ceremony was far too long, but the two main speakers were excellent. Michelle Obama’s was the best, by a long-shot. My favorite takeaway from Obama was:

“And I know that these days, that can seem counterintuitive, because we live in such an instantaneous age. We want everything right away—whether it’s an Uber or your favorite TV show—and we want it tailored to our exact preferences and beliefs. We fill our Twitter feed with voices that confirm, rather than challenge, our views. If we dislike someone’s Facebook post, we just un-follow them, we un-friend them.

And even here at Oberlin, most of the time you’re probably surrounded by folks who share your beliefs. But out in the real world, there are plenty of people who think very differently than you do, and they hold their opinions just as passionately. So if you want to change their minds, if you want to work with them to move this country forward, you can’t just shut them out. You have to persuade them, and you have to compromise with them. That is what so many of our heroes of history have done.”


Transcript

Marian Wright Edelman’s was inspiring too — although a bit long. Someone suggested that since she was an elder she felt the need to be thorough in her speech. My favorite takeaway from Edelman’s speech was “So often we want to be a big dog and make a big difference but all of us can be a flea and bite and bite and move the biggest dog. Enough determined fleas biting strategically can make the biggest dog uncomfortable. And if some of us are flicked off but keep coming back and continue biting, we can change our nation. So be a flea for justice—for children and for the poor.”


Transcript

More photos

Thoughts on reading and reclaiming the joy

Now that I have begun to read again (hallelujah!) I’ve been thinking of why I quit — or at least slowed down and what I can do to continue to read. It is not that I quit enjoying reading — it is more that I found other things to do instead including the Internet, playing games on my tablet, and enjoying that third glass of wine.

Another thing I did that did actually restrict my joy of reading was be too critical. At some point in the past 10 years I thought I needed to be on guard while reading and be as critical as possible. I no longer read for the sake of reading. I “needed” to be ready to either argue why I liked or disliked a character or scene or plot.

Reading like that takes energy and takes the fun out of reading. If I like something — great. If I don’t, then that’s fine. Did the story move me in some way? Yes? Good. No? Then move on. No need to be all critical — maybe the book that moved me didn’t move someone else and maybe the book that didn’t, did move someone else. No need to waste energy arguing the point.

So some of you wondered why I [really] decided to do the Read a Shelf project. The answer is because I’ve used many ways to relax all my life and reading was my favorite until I made it a burden by being critical. If I am reading I am not wasting my time on games or the Internet. (By wasting time I don’t mean reading blog posts or writing them — I also don’t mean meaningful FB interaction.)

Anyway — I should go now, I have some reading to do.

RAS 3: The Book of Ruth — Jane Hamilton

I couldn’t tell you where this book came from. I am sure it was not new when I got it — I probably picked it up from a used book store after reading and liking Jane Hamilton‘s second book, A Map of the World.

What I liked most about the extremely depressing A Map of the World was that it took place in Wisconsin. While I don’t know the area of Wisconsin in which this book took place, the fact that it was in Wisconsin made me happy, despite the subject matter.

The Book of Ruth is also depressing, but very well-written and the story is engrossing. The Book of Ruth takes place in Honey Creek a (made-up) small town in Northern Illinois on the border of Wisconsin.

Honey Creek is way up in the very north of Illinois. If you lean over the Abendroths’ back fence your torso is in Wisconsin.

I tried to plot where the town could be by clues in the story.

  • Borders Wisconsin
  • 40 miles from DeKalb
  • Rockford is closest big city

I figured it was somewhere near Harvard, Illinois. I have probably been there. Dean was there just last week. Ruth’s Aunt Sid (from the book) lives in DeKalb — where I went to college and near where Dean’s brother lives.

The Book of Ruth centers on young Ruth, the daughter of a bitter, likely depressed, woman named May and an absent father named Elmer. Ruth has a brother, Matt, who is brilliant and who eventually escapes to MIT. Ruth marries a local man, Ruby, who may or may not be developmentally delayed. The book is about dysfunctional families living in poverty and what they do to survive.

I’ll continue reading Jane Hamilton (happily she’s written at least two more books) but will wait a while in case her other stories are as depressing as A Map of the World (social ostracization) and The Book of Ruth (poverty, depression).

Stats 298 pages. Started June 14. Finished June 26.