Month: September 2013

Book Thief Final Discussion

So this week is the final week for our Book Thief read along.  Check out Sueys books and Kami’s Library

Parts 7- conclusion
“I am haunted by humans.”
I must admit there are tears in my eyes.  I love these characters so much that even on a 5th read through I ache for them.  As I’ve said many times before it is an earned cry.  It is a cry because I care.    The whole theme of The Book Thief is encompassed when Death says the human race can be “so ugly and so glorious,”.  That is this book and what a book!

1. How did you feel when Max had to leave the Hubermanns? What did you expect would happen to him?

Nervous. For sure he was done for and nervous for all involved.  I kept waiting for Liesel to see him in the marches or that Death would tell me another prediction.  When she finally see’s him it is one of the most brutal and sweet scenes of the whole book.  5th time and still made me cry.

2. Why do you think Liesel ran out to Max when they finally did cross paths, even after she had seen what happened to Hans earlier in the book?

True love.  Real friendship.  Love overcoming hate.  Its a perfect moment of so many emotions and yet how could she have not?  There is a limit to how far any human being can be pushed.
3. What did you think of Death spoiling the ending a couple chapters before it actually happened? Did the warning make it easier to handle?

Ugh.  Its so sad.  I cry just thinking about it.  It reminded me of a eulogy at the beginning of a funeral.  Its kind of a summary of the life and then the rest of the service is the meat, the details, the stuff that really matters to creating a meaningful life.

4. Which death impacted you the most?

Ugh.  How do you pick.  Liesel grabbing Hans accordion and weeping over Rosa’s body.  Her kissing Rudy.  My heart breaks.  I guess Rudy but even smaller characters like the Holtzapfels  or Randolph the mysterious soldier are so tragic.  That’s how rich this book is.  You feel deeply for a barely mentioned character.  Its all mankind that’s death impacts me the most.
5. How did your view of Ilsa Herman change over the course of the book?

Ilsa is such a complex character.  Its like she refuses to allow all the pain to confront her and just focuses on one.  I think Zusak does this because he wants to show that the loss of humanity is real and each individual life should be grieved.  Also its interesting that the library is Ilsa’s.  She is a weak human being but she still has power in words like the word shaker

6. The power of words is such a big theme throughout the book. Which instances of powerful words stuck out to you? Or, which quotes from the book stuck out to you?

I already shared some.  A theme of the book is that we are all book thieves.  We all take the words of an author and make them our own.  Make them part of our lives.  That is what the word shaker teaches us that throwing words are the only thing that defeats evil. It also creates evil which is the scary part of the book and why only death could be the narrator.

I love the quote “I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

word shaker
7. In this post Markus Zusak says:
In many ways I felt that the book is about Liesel’s different kind of loves – for Hans, for Rosa, for Rudy and Max, and for books and living in general.
Which of those loves resonated with you most?

I think friendship did.  I guess this is the love that I have the most of in my life. Friendship has saved me time and again.   It is the only love in our lives that is chosen aside from maybe marriage which is perhaps the greatest friendship.  To be someone’s friend is not required or expected where to support a spouse is.  To be a friend takes the ultimate love.  You see this time and again in the story.  Rudy and Liesel.  Liesel and Hans.  Hans and Rosa. Liesel and Max,  Rosa and Liesel.  Ilsa and Liesel.  Max and Hans.  etc.

I love the words of Death:

A DEFINITION NOT FOUND
IN THE DICTIONARY
Not leaving: an act of trust and love,
often deciphered by children

To be a friend is the greatest gift we can give someone and that trust is priceless.

8. Thoughts on Liesel and Death finally meeting?

It felt kind of like God and mankind meeting.  Like a judgement day where someone is admitted into heaven.

9. If this was your first time reading The Book Thief, is it what you expected?
If it was a reread, what did you notice this time around?

I noticed this reread the poetry of the book more than ever before.  I tend to skim books and skip sections of details.  This time I just read.  In many ways the book is an epic poem like Iliad or Odyssey.  Writing such as this is so sublime:

“It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on”

Another

“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves. “I’m okay” we say. “I’m alright”. But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can’t get it off. That’s when you realize that sometimes it isn’t even an answer–it’s a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.”

10. Will you see the movie?

Yes.  I’m skeptical but was very pleased with the trailer.  I look forward to seeing it.  Should we get a group of Utahans and all go?

This is really cool. Book Thief mind map
This is really cool. Book Thief mind map

Swim Shutdown

So I have made a difficult decision.  I have decided to not swim Slam the Dam.  Here are the reasons:

1. I miss General Conference for my church.  I should have just abandoned the attempt in the first place because watching this live and tweeting during it has become a big part of my life.  I need the nourishment and its just not the same watching it backwards.

2.  Despite their best efforts I have not gelled well with the organizers and I’ll just leave it at that.

3.  My friend won’t be able to go so she will be driving me down just to watch me swim.

4.  The likelihood of my finishing was about 50/50 (being generous).  My best time in a 1 mile swim is 54 minutes which is cutting it very close to the hour time limit. I get why they needed to have it but it just wasn’t the best for my friend and I to have the time limit.

5. With the government shutdown looming and very likely the race would be cancelled anyway because they rely on the parks department for the permit and race.  I think the chance of everything being resolved by Saturday is very small.  One of the organizers said “If the government shuts down the park will be closed and no swim. It’s that simple.”  I think its very unlikely the race will go on at all.

6. I have gotten to the pool about 4 times in September.  With vacation, sickness, back treatments and everything else it just hasn’t been a great training month like August was

7. In the end, driving 7 hours to not finish or have it cancelled while missing Conference just didn’t seem worth it especially considering I don’t really have any friends going or who would be there to cheer me on.

8. My friend summarized why she wasn’t going and her outlook and I agree:

“I’ve also withdrawn, asking that my swag bag and hoodie be mailed to me. I still dont regret signing up. I had a goal to reach for, and though I fell just short of it, I succeeded in becoming a swimmer. I will take that as the lifetime win it is. And, this just means my first “official” swim will be a SLOW swim. I think I love that!”

9.  I will also be following the directions and repeated orders of the planning committee.  Today they reiterated that if you are “unwell, ill, injured or generally “off” from your normal self (whatever that means?)  or can not meet course cut offs times, please do not swim” .  I will respect their request and not swim, leave it at that.

10. All goals just don’t work out and I think there is a lesson in that.  This is the second year I’ve tried to do this swim and will be my last for a time.  It’s just too busy a time for me and has been too stressful for all involved.

Thank you to all the volunteers and my friends for your amazing support.  I love you all so much.  Swimming is after all just a hobby.  It needs to always be fun and the last month or so it hasn’t felt fun.  I’m going to work on that.  I know that I’m a good swimmer.  Not swimming Slam the Dam does not change that.  I know that it is all for the best.

Thank you especially to Tania for being my training buddy and becoming my cherished friend.  You are the best. (I feel like I’m giving an Oscar speech but its true).

Thanks you guys!

This is what its all about in the end.  Friends always
This is what its all about in the end. Friends always

Guys- it was cancelled in the end so I’m extra happy with my decision (and glad I made my own medals in advance!).  I am sorry for those hoping to swim that couldn’t.  Karma…

Shutdown

First of all, I had an amazing response from last nights post.  Nearly 1,000 views in under 24 hours.  Blown away.  I love my church and when I say things like that I just want to make it better.

So the government is about to shut down.  I will say one thing about that and then move on to my personal life.  If your kid came to you each day and said ‘Mom its a crisis I need your help’ do you think you might become a bit skeptical?  The current administration has become the king at the crisis vote.  If it isn’t the debt ceiling, its health care, immigration, or Syria (which was a crisis and then was not in about a week).

If the President and the Democrats know they can get what they want by pushing the republicans so far that they face a worst case scenario than they will continually do that and continually get what they want.  Eventually someone has to say we are tired of the blackmail and tired of being forced into a corner.  We will accept a worst case scenario rather than be bullied into something we don’t believe in.  Eventually your bark has to have some bite in it or you will get walked over every time.

Now the republicans have given the President 3 different bills to keep the government funded.  One asked for full defunding, one asked for a year delay, and this final one asks for a year delay in just the individual mandate and Congress exemption (both which are wildly unpopular).  How is this not compromising?

When Clinton was faced with a government shutdown he realized that there was a limit to the compromise on the republican side and he then worked with them to get a balanced budget, welfare reform etc.  It also was not a horrible thing for the republicans as some claim with them actually gaining 2 seats in the senate in the 1996 elections.

Did you know that the government has closed down many times before?  3 times under Reagan, 1 under George H Bush and 6 times under Jimmy Carter.

The Obamacare is a terrible idea and already Regence Blue Cross sent out letters to its subscribers last week with as much as double the premiums because of the plan.  The medical device tax is hurting those that most need help and a middle class family of 4 will likely see their premiums go from $436 to $987.  This is a victory?  I don’t get it.

Anyway, don’t believe all you hear.  Compromise has happened.  If shutdown occurs it will not be all the republicans fault.

Hopefully it will be short lived but it will show the President that if he is going to call Iran and chat it up he needs to do the same real tough negotiations with his ‘friends across the aisle’.

Single in a Family Church

“Rachel, I’ve been told by a bishop in a singles ward several times that if I just open my mind and pray a spouse will find me. It’s easy he said. Ok. I’ve been single 5 years now.”

A friend on the singles forum told me this yesterday and I just couldn’t believe it.  First of all, who in their right mind thinks that being single is easy and secondly how dare you judge me as being ‘closed minded’ and not prayerful enough just because I am not lucky enough to find a mate.  It wasn’t even me and I am angry.

“Begging friends for setups, dealing with creeps online, having scores of crushes unmet, constantly dealing with being treated like a child by idiots, hearing the clock tick for a family while attending a family church. So easy!” (my response)

And unfortunately this experience is not in a vacuum. You ask any single person and they have experienced such attitudes.  The problem is for many people it has been so long since they have been in the dating rat race that they remember the process with rose-colored glasses.

Also, the whole idea of dating has just changed since they were in the dating scene.  Here’s the deal to those that don’t remember- nobody I know casually dates.  If you get asked on a date whether you are 14 or 44 you assume that person likes you and is seriously interested.  The only exception is if a person needs a date for an office party or wedding.

It is very rare for someone, man or woman, to date different girls on a weekly or even monthly basis.  Now you could argue that this change is unhealthy or needs to be fixed but at a certain point you would be denying the new reality  and living in a fantasy world.

Eventually the leadership of the church just needs to say ‘ok, This is the new way people date and court.  How do we help people?’

To prove my point.  Here are some answers to my survey about dating:

“I would love to go on dates more then once every 5 years. Lol. But if you don’t get asked out, or there is no one to ask out…how do you!”

“Dating? Futile
Online Dating? Funny Farm
Being set up? “Is that really what you think of me?”

“Dating is hard. Online is way less effective.”

“I hate dating. everyone I like likes someone else. everyone that likes me I think is pretty repulsive”

Anyway, gives you an idea.  I also think this problem exists outside of the church.  Its just not a requirement to marry for exaltation outside of the church.

In the end, I agree and know from the bottom of my heart that the highest degree of exaltation does require getting married and finding that person to be with forever BUT what about that sentence screams ‘easy’?  Living truth has never been easy.  Even if you do find him or her its still not easy.

We all have our struggles and claiming that someone needs to be more open minded and isn’t praying enough when you don’t know FOR SURE is just wrong. It’s outrageous.

Just love people guys.  Please.  Laugh with people.  Tell a joke.  Share doctrine that can apply to everyone’s life with gentle encouragement where appropriate.  My experience is most people have something to contribute, even if minimal on almost any topic.  Why not listen? Heavenly Father loves His children, married or not.  Let’s try to be a little bit less free with our advice and a little bit more loving.

PLEASE.

PS.  There is a popular blog going around my married friends circles that says that those without children should ‘shut up’ and that their opinions about parenting are ‘worthless’.  If I have to keep my mouth shut about your life than the same goes for those that haven’t experienced being single in their 30’s +.  How would you like it if you went to church and heard about how your job being a parent was easy and that you just needed to pray more for your children to behave? Urgh….

Let’s all try to be nice and admit that neither of us have it easy…

There I said it.

I also have to add that my parents are a single girl’s dream.  No pressure at all.  No guilt.  Thank you!

130929-172753PPS.  If you think it is really that easy try finding someone for the single in your life to go on a date with.  I bet you will find it is tough.

PPPS.  Forgive me for ranting and raving.  The Church is still so true even if I get frustrated with the people every now and then.  I think people need to hear that someone in the world is experiencing the same thing as them.  Its hard to be single in a family church.  I hope at the least I let someone know they are heard and not alone.

Movie Survey

movies3

A few weeks ago I did a little survey on books.  Since people seem so fascinated with my opinions on movies I thought I would do a similar post on movies.

Here goes:

Your favorite movie: Up

The last movie you watched : Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Your favorite action/adventure movie(s) : Inception
Your favorite horror movie : The Shining/Wait Until Dark
Your favorite drama movie :  Tough call.  Slumdog Millionaire
Favorite Comic book movie:  The Avengers or possibly X-Men
Your favorite comedy movie:  Clueless, Office Space, Monty Python Holy Grail, Better Off Dead
Your favorite romance: Breakfast at Tiffanys, 500 Days of Summer
Your favorite romantic comedy:  When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail
Movie you are looking forward to:  Book Thief, Enders Game, Hobbit 2
Favorite based on a true story: (favorite genre of mine) Beautiful Mind, Rudy, Apollo 13, Walk the Line, Kings Speech
A movie that makes you happy:  You’ve Got Mail, The Artist, Silver Linings Playbook
A movie that makes you sad: Bright Star, Schindler’s List, Amistad, Les Miserables
A movie that makes you happy and sad: Perks of Being a Wallflower
A movie that you know practically the whole script of: Breakfast at Tiffanys, You’ve Got Mail
Your favorite director: Norah Ephron, Hiyao Miyazaki
Your favorite movie from your childhood: Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast
Your favorite animated movie: Up
A movie that you used to hate but now love: Pinocchio maybe?
Favorite movie in high school: Clueless
If Someone were to play you in a movie?: Melissa McCarthy
Best Adaptation:  Harry Potter movies except 7th part 1 which bored me.
Your favorite quote from any movie:  I love Nora Ephron.  Rom coms haven’t been the same (or even produced) since she left us. Some favorites:
         Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it,  or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?
         People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they’re really saying is that something you didn’t want to happen at all… has happened.
         Well, I’m gonna get out of bed every morning… breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out… and, then after a while, I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.
          The odd thing about this form of communication is that you’re more likely to talk about nothing than something. But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings.  (how I totally feel about this blog.  Thanks everyone!)
I could go on…(love her movies and writing). See https://smilingldsgirl.com/2012/07/12/nora-ephron/
The first movie you saw in theaters: The first one I remember was Little Mermaid.  Also Home Alone sticks out.
The last movie you saw in theaters: Wizard of Oz (so amazing)
Favorite score of movie: The Mission
Favorite song in movie:  Over the Rainbow.  (Also my favorite song period)
The best movie you saw during the last year: Les Miserables
A movie that disappointed you the most:  Star Wars: Phantom Menace
Your favorite actor(s): Carey Grant, Jimmy Stewart
Your favorite actress(es): Emma Thompson, Audrey Hepburn, Meg Ryan
The most overrated movie:  What a can of worms to open again… (see post on this topic)  Terms of Endearment isn’t on my earlier post so I will go with that.  Also, hate to say it but I thought Rushmore was overrated. Just didn’t make me laugh. (send the hate mail 🙂 )
The most underrated movie: See my post on this topic Again I’ll bring up a movie I didn’t put on this list.  Stranger than Fiction.  Love it
Your favorite character from any movie: Holly Golightly
Favorite documentary: My Kid Could Paint That, Civil War (Ken Burns but not really a movie)
A movie that no one would expect you to love: Warrior if they didn’t know I was into MMA
A movie that is a guilty pleasure: Rom coms in general.  Cheesy Christmas movies. Love Comes Softly series
Favorite classic movie: His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, Notorious
Movie with the best soundtrack: The Chorus is wonderful, modern day soundtrack- When Harry Met Sally (love all the Harry Conick Jr)
A movie that changed your opinion about something: Slumdog Millionaire made me decide R rated movies might be ok and to focus on screenit reviews, content rather than ratings
Your least favorite movie: Armageddon, Contact, Drop Dead Gorgeous (only movie I’ve left theater crying in a bad way).  See Movies I Hate

Wizard of Oz

Tonight I had a special experience.  I got to see Wizard of Oz restored in 3D at the IMAX. It is playing through the end of the week so if you get a chance see it!   Its amazing.   They don’t make movies like that any more.  The songs, sets, story, acting, everything is so wonderful.  I have said before on my blog that Over the Rainbow is my favorite song of all time.  I have 13 versions of it on my ipod.  I love Judy Garland and think her life is one of such heartbreak.

https://smilingldsgirl.com/2010/10/26/favorite-songs/

I love the story of finding home, protecting your friends, searching for your dreams, and facing evil.  The lesson Dorothy learns through her entire journey in Oz is pretty great:

“if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!”

 

wizard of oz2  wizard of oz3wizard of oz6 wizard of oz4 wizard of oz5

Feminism and Fairy Tales

Disney Female Villains
Disney Female Villains

 

This morning I slept in until about 11:30 and feel greatly improved.  Enough so that I found myself looking over old blog entries and making them better.  I often am amazed at the mistakes I make after having reviewed my writing several times before posting.  Sigh…

Anyway, I found myself reading an old post I had done on the children’s author Roald Dahl.  In the post I wrote about rereading Roald Dahl books and how the depiction of women was kind of disturbing.  Whether it be the aunts in James and the Giant Peach or the Trunchbill in Matilda most of his books have a beastly villainous women at the center.

As I was thinking about the post I started to ponder about other stories.  Snow White? Evil Queen.  Cinderella?  Wicked Stepmother. Sleeping Beauty? Maleficent.  Little Mermaid?  Ursula.  Wizard of Oz? Wicked Witch.  Rapunzel? Gothel.  I could go on…

Isn’t that strange?  Why do you think that is?  It’s especially weird when you think that men have been the more dominating force over the years.  The devil is almost always thought of as a man and yet his minions are sultry temptresses or women.   A man would seem the more natural choice for a villain in previous eras because they had all the power and control.  Strange?

I was talking about this with my sister and she suggested that these characters are almost always middle aged childless women. “Supposedly it is because childress women past their child rearing age were considered a societal threat”.   Lonely figures have always been viewed as isolated by choice, scary, and backward especially by children.   When I first lived alone you wouldn’t believe the number of people who were horrified by the idea, even today.  They expressed concern and amazement that I could do such a thing and be happy.

You look at the idea of the old maid or the crazy lady with all the cats that still persist today.  I’ve known girls who have refused to get a cat because they don’t want to be that kind of single woman.  One dating advice column I read recently said to girls “Owning More Than One Cat Does Not Mean You Will Die An Old Maid”  .  Perhaps the refusal (or bad luck) of these middle-aged childless women to conform to social norms made them scary and ripe for fairy tale lore?  What do you think?

My other theory is since we all start life in a female, and hopefully being loved by a mother, there is nothing scarier than a woman gone wrong.   Its like it takes the maternal instinct and twists it to its evil side.  Almost all of the fairy tales with female villains have a female heroine as well.  These innocents are young, hopeful and beautiful (fairest in the land…).   Ever since I took feminist classes in college I’ve struggled with the whole princess ideology because I loved it so much growing up but I see how it can be harmful to young girls.

I don’t know what I would do if I had a daughter.  I certainly didn’t see something like the Little Mermaid as anything but empowering as a girl.  I wanted to get out and try my own ways just like Ariel.  I wanted to read and be bold like Belle.  It never occurred to me that there was these more negative subtle social influences.  If they didn’t occur to me until I was in my 20s do they matter?

You look at something like Dorothy who fights evil and saves Oz from the wicked witch and it seems super empowering.  Never did I think that all of the people surrounding Dorothy are men except for the wicked witch. What do you guys think?  Do these negative female characters affect the way girls grow up (or boys for that matter)?  Are they harmful?  Are they harmful to adults and male/female interaction (as in the old maid example)?

What are stories that have a male villain?  I thought of Tolkien but all the characters in his books are male for the most part so it doesn’t count.  Don’t you find that odd that the women is always the villain?  Maybe this is part of the reason I didn’t really like fantasy growing up.  I didn’t relate to the perfect ingenue and I certainly didn’t get the villainesses.