Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li

So, I'm taking a break from Slaves in the Family. On Saturday morning, I got a notice from my library telling me my materials were "due soon" and I panicked, having already renewed it once. How many times am I going to have to renew this before I actually finish reading it? It's a big book! Over 800 pages long! I thought, well, I don't mind purchasing it, so let's see what Powells has. So I went on their website and much to my excitement, they had it in stock for 6.95. Yay me! So I called their customer service line to ask exactly where it was. I was heading over to my mom's that day to get wedding gifts from Crate and Barrel, so I thought if there is on in Beaverton, I could easily stop by. If there was one on Burnside, I could stop by before heading to my moms. Luckily, I didn't have to go too far. There was one at Burnside. I immediately rounded up my things: laundry, purse, suitcase, and headed to Burnside. It was quite convenient because Powells has a parking lot for its about 5 story building. The customer service person told me exactly where it was: Purple Room-African-American Studies-Slavery-Reconstruction. Go it. I parked my car and off I went. I'm glad I went with a mission because knowing me, I can spend HOURS and way too much money at a place like that. I finally found the purple room and the africa-american studies section and there they were, 3 copies of Slaves in the Family. Two large soft covers and one hard cover. I debated whether I wanted a hard or soft cover and I went with the soft cuz I concluded it might not be *as* heavy, plus it was normal text so that cut a few hundred pages as well. When I pulled off the shelf, I knew I scored: 1.95 for a soft bound book. YES! So now that I have the book purchased, I will no longer accrue fines, or have to renew every three weeks.
I got interested in A Thousand Years of Good Prayers because as a movie junkie, I am constantly on the look out for new indie movies. I found the trailer on the apple site and was immediately intrigued. I have a soft spot for lost older men. The book is a collection of short stories and I believe the movie is about one of those stories that I have yet to stumble upon. Basically, the movie is about an elderly Chinese man that goes to live with his daughter in the United States, but really doesn't know who she is any more and at the same time, he's discovering new things about himself. It seems that it's mainly a book about him rather than the daughter and it's so infrequent that we ever get movies about elderly people. I look forward to finding that story in my reading. I've enjoyed this collection of short stories a lot too because they remind me of the "magical realism" that so many Latin American books are intertwined with. As a young child, I grew up hearing stories like that and thus, believing in them. As I read completely different stories from a completely different country, makes me realize how we, as humans, are so similar. In each culture, there are those slightly exaggerated stories passed down from generations to generations. But western culture seems to be squashing the imagination and wonder that these stories brought and it makes me a little sad. Everything has to be proved to be believed, it seems that few run on faith anymore. But I guess people would call me childishly naive because I want to blindly believe in these stories and the good in people. Oh well, call me naive. When I grow up and have my children, I will tell them the stories my mother has told me, and hopefully they can keep their imagination and wonder long enough to pass the stories to their children.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

8 Things

Since nothing much has happened this week and I seem to have misplaced my camera and I'm continuing to read the same book (its over 800 pages long, LARGE PRINT) I thought I'd do a little silly quiz found on my friend's blog.

Eight Things: A Theme

8 things I am passionate about:
*Helping others
*Fall holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving)
*Massages (passionate about receiving them)

8 books I’ve read and enjoyed:
* The God of Small Things
* P.S. I love you
* Caucasia
* Bless Me Ultima
* The Bastard on the Couch
* Flags of our Fathers
* Always Running
* Burro Genius

8 words/phrases that I say often:
* Whatever
* Sure
* I have to get up.
* I have to go to bed.
* I love you too.
* Do you have my stamps?
* "Uuuuugh!" (frustration)
* I'm tired

8 things I want to do before I die:
* Get married
* Be a mother
* travel
* Live in a foreign country
* own a house
* Work on a documentary
* jump out of a plane
* watch my children grow and be taken care of.

8 things I’ve learned in my life:
* Emotional fulfillment (for me) is important.
* Compromising is key, as long as the other person does their part as well.
* I need more counter space cuz apparently, I like to bake!
* Communication is easy when it's good stuff, it's hard when it's bad stuff.
* Taking time for yourself is not selfish, of course within limits.
* Accepting who you are and not some idealized version of yourself is key to mental stability.
* My family is more important than ever and am so grateful for the close relationship.
* Having fun should not feel guilty (still working on that)

8 places I want to see:
* Castles in Ireland
* Historical land marks, USA
* Greece
* Sandy beaches, Mexico
* Australia
* Italy
* London
* Germany

8 things I currently want/need:
* My dept paid off.
* A bigger apartment
* A crystal ball to tell me if I'm doing the right thing.
* Learning how to relax.
* One shot public transportation that takes me from NW to SW hillsdale area.
* Isaiah's debt to be paid off.
* ?
* ?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball

I forgot that this blog first started out as a "what I'm reading" blog. Well, since I hadn't been reading for while, I decided to post the "what I'm doing" posts. But, I've started reading again, and it just goes to show, I'll take non-fiction over fiction any day. Currently, I'm reading "Slaves in the Family" by George Ball. It's about the author, George Ball, looking into his ancestors' pasts as slave holders and trying to find the decedent of their slaves, the Ball slaves. It's quite a huge book to lug around because the only copy the have at the library is large print. I'm only into chapter 4 I believe, but it's quite interesting so far. His style of writing is not quite my favorite, but he keeps me coming back for more, to find out what more he's been able to uncover about his past.
This part of US history has always been the most interesting to me, this, the Native occupation and removal, and the civil rights. At the same time, I know that even though I was born in this country and technically, this is also my history, it really isn't. You see, my parents didn't immigrate to this country until 1960, so my US history starts then. It makes me a bit sad to know I have no part in the history of the United States, but PLEASE do not misinterpret what I'm trying to say. No, I am not sad that I don't have slaves or slave holders in my family. That, I am very content to know I was not a part of, but I am sad that I had no relatives in 1770 whatever living in say Maine or Wisconsin. My family in 1770 something was most likely in Mexico, during "their" history. My grandmother had some part in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 (oh so they say). So history is a very interesting and important things to me. It makes me feel like I'm a part of somebody, something larger than me. I am part of a collective people moving forward, but as is, I'm kind of not. I was not born in Mexico, but Mexicans look familiar to me. I was born in the United States in a very white area and even though this is home, this is the place I love, I still think I feel a bit as an "other" in the history books. That's why I was an Ethnic Studies major. Ethnic Studies made me feel like I belonged to the United States, like my people were a part of their history. There were things like the Chicano Movement, as well as the Asian Movement and the Native American movement, not to mention the Black movement. When I was considering going back to school to get my master in History, the head dude a particular school that will remain unnamed kind of laughed in my face and said ethnic studies was NOT history. That really offended me. How can ethnic studies not be history? Does ethnic studies not explore the life of slaves during Jefferson? Does ethnic studies not go in depth about the lives of the Hopi natives before and during the Spain settlements? Does ethnic studies not demonstrate the stupid anti intermarriage law that was finally put to rest with Loving vs. Virginia in 1967? Isn't that history? History of people of color IN the United States? The history of Americans of ALL freakin' colors?! (Ok sorry, that still pisses me off!) That's why I think it's important to teach history of ALL people, not just old white dudes. Old white dudes wouldn't be where they are if it weren't on the backs of brown people! Wow, whew. This gets me riled up! So yes, as a child, I believe it is important to see yourself reflected in a history book, to make a child feel like they belong. I know that would have been important to me and that's why I wanted to be a high school US history teacher, but high schoolers scare me, so I've moved on.
So yes, it's a little sad for me to know that technically, I'm not part of that piece of history, but I was born here, so I accept the good and the bad that his country has and continues to do. I am part of this history and my children will know that.