AB's Reviews > Love Medicine

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
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's review
Feb 15, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: fiction, author-f, own

Irritatingly uneven in spots and unforgivably slow at the end, but I can't help it; I'm officially a sucker for these people.

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Reading Progress

February 15, 2009 – Shelved
February 15, 2009 – Shelved as: fiction
February 18, 2009 – Shelved as: author-f
February 19, 2009 – Shelved as: own
April 25, 2009 –
page 18
4.9% "If somebody out there hasn't already made a comprehensive family tree of all the Erdrich characters, they should maybe get on that. Whoa."
April 27, 2009 –
page 44
11.99% "Leopolda!"
April 27, 2009 –
page 78
April 29, 2009 –
page 105
28.61% "Found comprehensive Argus family trees! Hallelujah!"
April 30, 2009 –
page 146
May 1, 2009 –
page 181
May 1, 2009 –
page 200
54.5% "Aaand I think it might be time to take a break and read some Woolf. But we'll see; it's such a fast read when I get going."
May 2, 2009 –
page 224
May 2, 2009 –
page 237
64.58% "Lipsha's malapropisms are killing me. In a good way."
May 4, 2009 –
page 282
Started Reading
May 5, 2009 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-39)

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unnarrator I really *wanted* to like this? Both when I read it in the early nineties, and last weekend? But I never did. And then I was sad.

message 38: by AB (new) - rated it 3 stars

AB Any particular reason why you didn't? I'm just curious. I doubt this'll top "Little No Horse" for me, but I like it fine so far. She's the first author I've read since Margaret Laurence who does the 'interconnected but not serial' thing with novels -- I know, I need to read Faulkner et al., I'm getting there -- and that in itself is so comforting to me that I'm probably a little biased. I'll have to see how the rest turns out.

I was surprised to see that this novel actually gets taught, though -- I sort of blinked at it like, "Well... maybe there was something especially new and exciting about this in the '80s?" :)

unnarrator Well, and in the end our (exceedingly retro-minded) instructor ditched the text, because he felt he'd rather talk for TWO MONTHS SOLID about Norman Mailer. I was never more frustrated with a fiction course.

(NB by the way that when I say "retro-minded" I mean, refers consistently to Invisible Man as "Afro-American literature." The guy is perpetually STUCK in 1972. Which is why he thinks Ellison and Erdrich and KEN KESEY are just dazzlingly, outlandishly weird and why we're not reading, oh, let's say, Barth and Coover and Barthelme and WALLACE. Even worse, classes are held in the same room where I myself teach undergraduate lit, so sometimes it's all I can do not to rush up to the front and take over the damn lecture myself.)

ANYWAY I can't really figure out what it is about this particular Erdrich book that's just not lighting my fire—it's not the episodic structure (I love Winesburg, Ohio, e.g.) and I dig her short stories—so probably I just need to try again.

message 36: by AB (new) - rated it 3 stars

AB Oh, lord. See, as funny as it is to read about it, if that was the sort of environment I was introduced to the book in I'd end up disliking it for no particular reason, too. I've harboured worse grudges against better material, I'm sure. (Also, you should totally commandeer the lecture and blame it on state-dependent learning/memory/motor activity. Or something.)

Also, Wallace! I don't even have him on my reading list yet, partly because I usually read novels over short stories/essays when given the chance but the thought of tackling Infinite Jest makes me feel a little faint. So I don't really know where to begin at all.

unnarrator Oooh oooh oooh Dave Wallace may I evangelize with all the fervour of a recent zealous convert plskthx? :o) I snubbed him for years as a wankery showoffy Pynchony Dude and only was ensnared because he's a friend of a friend, and we shared issues of being mentally interesting, and obvious recent tragedy etc.; anyway it turned out that doing it in this order was perfect for me:

1. A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again—especially the essays on the State Fair, David Lynch, playing tennis as a kid in the midwest, and the BEST one, the title essay, about being an apologetic introverted weirdo on a cruise ship full of gung-ho Amurikan yahoos;

2. The short stories in Oblivion, which might as well be novels, especially "Good Old Neon"; and assorted other stray short stories you can find by aggressive Googling (or at the Howling Fantods' website), such as "The Depressed Person" which actually Harper's may still be making available, along with most of the essays I mentioned in #1;

3. His Kenyon commencement address, of course, which is marvelously, Satanically subtle and uncomfortably true, and which has just been rereleased as this ridiculous graduation-season $14.95 moneymaker by Little Brown, but which you can find all over the place online for free; and only then finally

4. Infinite Jest, into which you will plow with grateful delight, now secure in the knowledge that you are in capable prose hands for all its thousand pages. Admittedly I stalled around page 200, but only because I reluctantly conceded the exigencies of life, i.e. 36 clamouring students and 3 mildly impatient professors wondering when I'm going to, respectively, grade their papers and/or write something for them.

And 5. this has nothing to do with DFW? But I just wanted to apologize for all this *writing*. Because I honestly thought you were an AB who goes to school with me, but have only just now realized you're an AB who's a friend of Farren's; so I feel socially retarded. I like your books! And I will behave myself now.

message 34: by AB (new) - rated it 3 stars

AB Please, evangelize away! I knew you would, and I'd been meaning to ask you where to start with him one of these days anyway.

Also, you don't need to apologize. Though I'm sorry about the mixed-up-identity thing; those moments = awkward. As if the Internet didn't already feel like one big high school anyway, right? But I appreciate all this *writing*. Talking about writing is one of my favourite things ever, and I like your books too! Haha. So feel free. :)

unnarrator My daughter and my money go to Internet High School, ar ar ar. And the only thing worse than *writing* is, clearly, "writing." ;o)

Harper's is still making what they have available, so good for them:


I can't wait for summer and proper READING time; school is seriously interfering with my education!

message 32: by Jessica (last edited May 01, 2009 09:28AM) (new)

Jessica dude i'ma second the wallace; oblivion's killer, but ij has been slowly taking over my life for years now. i still haven't finished it (ha!), but it's just, impossibly absorbing, & every few weeks to a month i go back & reread 50-100 pages, often large chunks of that drunk& (importantly!) aloud... i'm only a few hundred in but am thinking summer's when i'll finally knock it out, though i doubt that means i'll stop reading it um all the time (healthy!).

everything & more is rockin, too (maths!), another i'm only halfway through... same w/ interviews... i don't know what my "thing" is w/ wallace? not only do i consider him one of my top 5 favorite / most important authors EVER while having finished hardly any of his complete works, but i also don't feel like that's as relevant as i'd usually think it. cuz he's bigger than the narrative. it's an entering. i assume christian people don't insist on reading the entire bible all at once? so, like that. (hilariously i stopped to think & there's really noone on my goodreads who would be offended by that comment?!)

basically: ij's not really something for which you need to wait until you "have time" or feel like you can "handle" the massive size or whatev - though i put it off that way for a while, too? - as it's more something you can immerse yrself in whenever, anytime, right now. so fucking rich w/ things to think about, w/ arcs & movement & light.

unnarrator WORD.

unnarrator Just like, I haven't read every scrap of everything by Woolf or Faulkner. Because I'm, honestly, saving some of it—if I found I had only a few months to live etc. I guess I'd binge, but, you know: girl's gotta plan for retirement.

message 29: by Jessica (new)

Jessica see dude, if you could just cultivate a poor memory! i don't need to save anything; i just keep filling up & it keeps slipping through the sieve. i hope that eventually the sediment builds up into something that'll stay? - even if as nothing more than a sense, a shape - but am trying to see its plus side for as long as i can't control it.

used to think of "saving things" for later, when younger? but these days rock submergence, the torrent, the sort of thick steeping that colors yr surroundings. & yknow i don't think it's just that i'll forget so much anyway, but it turns out i am FINALLY learning to read what i WANT to read, little-to-nothing else (possibly sometimes what i need to read). crazy! though not um super conducive to discipline. not that i need discipline.

who wants an intellectual life ANYWAY

message 28: by AB (new) - rated it 3 stars

AB re: ACADEMIC SUCKERS, sing it, Jskah! Keep singing it until some of it sticks and I stop feeling so crazy for maybe not going back. (I haven't mentioned that, have I? Oops. Well.)

Un, what are you saving for your Woolf retirement plan? P.S. I'm not super loving Love Medicine either right now -- the stories feel pretty uneven. My favourites are the Marie Lazarre/Leopolda parts, but that's because they're connected to the book that I've already read and also I have a pronounced Thing for unconventional/subversive takes on Catholicism and crazy masochistic nuns. Ha.

Also, hokay! Y'all have convinced me, Wallace is going on the reading list.

message 27: by Jessica (new)

Jessica oh man, dude, what year are you / where are you going / how do you feel about the program? cuz um to be totally honest, sarcasm aside, i would LOVE to go to (a good) school, it's just, yknow, fear, $, conviction of inability, etc etc etc. if where you are is making you miserable & failing to teach you (or teaching you Badly) i think you should wait, but at the same time you've always seemed to thrive in academic situations & have talked a lot about the impact of yr profs, so, think / talk it through - not judging either way though, as i clearly see the cons of academia!

unnarrator You two should start your own school! This is some of the best conversation I've had about books all semester (barring that of the undergrads I get to teach, who are wildly funny; but their taste isn't particularly, shall we say, well developed).

I haven't saved out that much Woolf, now I think about it—The Voyage Out, Night and Day, Jacob's Room, The Years/The Pargiters, and big swaths of the journals, which I figure I can afford to buy then anyway (certainly not now, much as I covet them). Also I have saved almost ALL of Henry James, but let me confess that since I turned 40 last month, I am seriously craving him, so that particular layaway plan may not last that much longer, if me lying on my stomach too fried to hold up my head but still stubbornly reading Daisy Miller with burning eyes at 3 am one night this week, KNOWING I had to teach the next day, was any indication. Which I suspect it is.

Oh, and my MFA...well, let's see. I am in the second year of a three-year poetry program at an unnamed ugly-ass state school in the oh-so-socially enlightened state of Arizony. I have an MA from Cambridge in English lit (thanks to a loan the size of a Lexus) and another from Boston in poetry. Then I taught and edited and administrated to pay off my whopping undergrad/grad loans; got divorced and ditched day jobs and started freelancing; hit some kind of bottom and slithered back to some kind of functionality with therapy and lots of psych meds; and here I am back for more abuse. And thinking about a PhD?! At FORTY?! Glutton. Insanity. May ditch it all after next year and live in a trailer in Mexico instead.

Because academia is a weird dance for creative people, I think. The pattern that seems to find us, of moving in and out of its libraries and stupidities. There are wonderful things and there are frustrating things. I never seem capable of remaining at an institution for longer than 2-3 years so far. And, I will always calendar my year in terms of semesters. You know. It's like that.

Last night at the U of A Wallace tribute (I drove down to Tucson) Charles Bock read from IJ and there wasn't a fucking dry eye in the house. It was a pretty killer panel. Y'all should have totally been there.

message 25: by AB (new) - rated it 3 stars

AB Reading The Voyage Out right now and man, reading a page and a half of Woolf is the equivalent of reading three quarters of anybody else's novel. Phew. However, what's up, Richard and Clarissa Dalloway! Nice to see you again!

(OMG, the journals. I have to restrain myself by reminding myself that I'm still not even finished the Plath journals which I've had forever, I'm in no place to start shelling out for those. I've made exceptions for her letters, though; reading, that is, not paying for.)

Wait a second, you have two MAs? Wow. I don't think it ever dawned on me that people could/would get more than one, to be honest. And I thought you were doing a PhD already for sure; how'd I miss that? Hm.

As for me: I'm allegedly getting a Psych major/English minor BA, still. It's taken me about five years to accumulate two and 1/4 years' worth of credits. And I do dig my profs and like the material, most of the time, but something about being in the midst of all that brings out a lot of The Crazy in really destructive ways, so. I don't want to go back to that unless I'm really really sure that I'm doing the right thing by being there, and I'm not sure, hence the trying to jump ship and do something else. Although I don't know what that 'else' might be just this yet, which is proving to be almost as robustly terrifying as The Crazy; funny how that works out. Anyway, that's the heavily abridged version. The one thing I do know is that I'll end up going back eventually if only because I'm too much of a snob, at heart, not to.

Also, I totally make my new year' resolutions in September. I'm all, "But by January it's HALF OVER already!" Like that.

P.S. Oh my god, Jskah, could you imagine running a school. "Unschooling for everybody, boys and girls! Here are some poems. Aaaand go!"

P.P.S. Un, it's no real comparison to the DFW stuff or anything but Farren and I were talking awhile back about The New Yorker hurriedly trying to publish all the new Gilbert stuff (and consequently pissing me off because I was trying to stay unspoiled for the book!) before he dies? I'm pretty sure when he does I'll cry. I'm not used to having the deaths of literary figures be so... relevant? Immediate? Both, I guess. Plath and Woolf et al have spoiled me.

unnarrator One of my students was recently telling me about her to-grad-school-or-not-to-grad-school dilemmas, and I was nodding all sympathetically. We're looking at her paper draft on her laptop, and she's all, "And these are my reading notes, but don't worry, I'm not going to include them all in the paper." And then she has like SIX PAGES of typed, single-spaced notes on Rich, Cixous, and Irigaray. And I (figuratively speaking) close my hand over hers, and lock eyes, and lower my voice significantly, and say: Um, about that whole grad school thing? Just to let you know—you pretty much have no choice. It's, ah, how can I say this: it's OVER for you, my dear. You have been CALLED.

Like that.

And dear lord yes does it bring out The Crazy. (Thus my running gag, "That's DOCTOR Crazy Lady to you!") But fortunately you usually get free/cheap therapy on-campus with the student health insurance; and here at stupid State School they even help you do the patient-assistance paperwork to get free drugs. Which was my problem with freelancing—no health insurance, because who wants to cover a walking pre-existing condition such as moi-même? Exactly. So school has turned to out be kind of a badly paying job—when I adjuncted in Santa Fe I only made $2,500 a course; and now I make closer to $4,000, with insurance and all the photocopying I want! Universities are built on cheap labor. And book whores are so easy to enslave.

unnarrator PS: As in...this flame-generating piece by Mark Taylor:


message 22: by AB (new) - rated it 3 stars

AB So I think if I wrote a response to this here it might actually break the Internet. Do you, uh, mind if I take this to e-mail? Although I make no promises as to the promptness thereof?

unnarrator Oh please, please, let's take it to the email! I'm at unnarrator@gmail.com and its being finals week and all, I too make no promises. Hooray!

And just think, you started all this merely by enjoying a novel which puzzled me. :o)

message 20: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Y'all should have totally been there.


++ yr million yrs of schooling sound delicious...

message 19: by Mara (new)

Mara Oh, but if you take it to the email then I will not get to EAVESDROP unless you cc me mara@rinzai.com and I have spent an hour busily trying to mentally compose a response to a note from the lovely and literate Ms. AB where I explain how confusing I find trying to separate out schooling and education and the purposes therein, only I made myself go and actually READ those paper and print things instead of insanely long internet messages and I think there is something to weighing out how important external discipline and credentials and community all are if one wishes to homeschool oneself, and if the institutional education is making one mentally unstable, why the fuck not? I am thinking of making the experiment more formal but 1) discipline has never been the problem 2) the credentials sometimes seem to carry less weight than the electronic ink wherewith they aren't printed and 3) OMG I live in an age where I can forge a farflung community with brilliant and fabulous people who are smart and literate and insightful and funny and thus people I'd prefer to most of the people I've ever been confined in a classroom with. Only. I do keep sending the offspring to conventional schools because a) they need to learn to play well with others and b) I need a few hours when I am not answering questions/cleaning up after/providing snacks to/generally responsible for the well-being of said offspring. Of course. I confabulate with the best of them, and this could be the fear speaking, because lord knows, I'm not getting a rejection envelope from Homeschool U. And I consider joining in the johnnies on facebook in reading the whole program in order and then think that's an order of masochism I am not ready for, especially if I suddenly need to drop everything for a month to read Duras or Wallace or Woolf.

unnarrator Jskah, I'm writing up the DFW tribute thing for the wallace-l listserv/my blog, so I promise to make you feel like you were in the crowd. :o)

And, million years of schooling? only due to pathological sense of academic inadequacy coupled with inability to hold down a day job. I.e., what would happen to Martin Eden if he'd been an anorectic twenty-year-old woman.

Those Johnnies are barking MAD, Mara-chan. The Brujo told me about it and my head revolved 360 degrees. No you DIDN'T. We need you here with us!

Although...the thing about the real classroom of course is that, like therapy, it's alchemical. I'm as swaggering an autodidact as the next homeschool-survivor, but for me one really wildly great professor totally makes up for a roomful (or semester-full, or department-full) of sleepers. And then there's the pleasure of learning to speak as well as write, to articulate things you don't even know you're thinking until they stagger lumpenly but miraculously out of your mouth.

It's also a protected space—the same people who suddenly need things when you're "just" reading/writing are shockingly more willing to be deferred when you're "doing work." Then, I read most of Nietzsche when I was waiting tables—but I don't think I could place what I read into context until I spent various seminars being bored and doodling in my notebook and daydreaming wistfully about women who were almost certainly going to reject me had they not already.

But look at me—why am I trying to upsell you on grad school? Just being officious? Apparently I have an undeveloped potential career in going about the world proselytizing post-graduate education, and/or trying to entice brainy literary women into underfunded programs where they will be abused and neglected, but be able to check out books for three months at a time? Jesus God, just IGNORE ME and talk amongst yourselves.

message 17: by AB (new) - rated it 3 stars

AB E-mail addresses duly noted! :) I don't know if I'll be able to do your points about schooling/education/alchemy justice, and by "your" I mean the two of you -- Un, I don't know why I never thought of the connection betw. classroom & therapy before but that kind of blew my mind for a second -- but uh, working on it. Percolating, or whatever the word is.

P.S. ...where they will be abused and neglected, but be able to check out books for three months at a time? I'm trying to convince myself that just having access to the library's magnificence isn't actually worth going back to getting devoured by The Machine, with varying degrees of success depending on the day. Heh.

message 16: by Jessica (new)

Jessica mara - re: johnnies program in order? i decided to do the same thing starting 8-12 months back & quickly realized that i was 21 &so (had i gone straight to college post-high school, had i made it through in 4yrs, had i blah blah blah, etc.) the age at which i'd have graduated. recognizing this did not make the compulsion seem less a REALLY GOOD IDEA even though it um, wasn't.

i pasted both the anapolis & santa fe reading list charts into a word document, highlighted what i'd already hit, & decided i would give myself a year to kill all the freshman list stuff in any order; the problem quickly became (shocker!) that i read everything i wanted to read (have at this point hit all the aeschylus & euripides, a dash of aristotle, maybe half the - considerable! - plato, half the sophocles, some herodotus, maybe 27 words of lucretius), which is a large reason why i didn't go to school in the first place.

finally realized, wait a minute! if i'm not going to get the benefits of a formal education, why slam myself w/ the limitations? & chilled out a little. am still trying to work through the plato but now it's for ME, & i can comfortably dismiss the idea of the peloponnesian war for a couple yrs. sometimes think "senior yr looks way yummier anyway!" but then um HI SELF, it's not like you don't literally have an entire shelf of (40-50) books you've already started!

also does all that offspring talk mean you actually have real live children? cuz um, WEIRD.

un - "wallace-l listserv" = nerd! plz let me know, awesome awesome.

agree completely w/ the learning to speak, w/ speaking as the development of thought, communication as the trigger, the assumption of response, of there being a response, the thing that lets language unfold.... i am working on this, & crave/require it, but have difficulty finding places in which it can happen (nod to waiting tables!). hence, internet!

unnarrator Jskah—it's a skool day, so I shouldn't even be here. But:


Go nuts. :o)

message 14: by unnarrator (last edited May 04, 2009 09:04AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

unnarrator And, full disclosure, for all my snark? I love the university, think it's a miracle that it even exists, and esteem it as the best part of this weird country in which I seem to keep living—I love being a student in its system and I love teaching so much sometimes I think I will pass out (I even loved being an administrator, God help me). If this were a Facebook group page, it'd read: the Unreliable Narrator is a fan of Higher Education. So all my criticisms emerge definitively from within. And the academic advisor in me is having to sit on her hands and not start trying to talk you into Mills or Reed—because, Farren can tell you, I'm 'orrible pushy when it comes to empowering women in the academy. I don't know if that's Mount Holyoke/Girton's fault, or just the fact that I wouldn't be myself (or maybe even alive) without the wise and funny and kind female scholars who have hauled me, at times kicking and screaming, into self-consciousness. But that's how it is. I think university education is one of the few useful tools [no homo:] our shabby cultural collection has to offer; and I think the limits of trying to do it alone are generally speaking not, ultimately, worth it—one risks things like reinventing the wheel at best and tumbling into intellectual cul-de-sacs at worst (kind of the authorial equivalent of being the crazy cat lady; which, don't get me wrong) (though as Jeanette Winterson says honestly, "There are exceptions and I hope they are happy"). Besides, a true autodidact is going to REMAIN such even in the university confines. Which is possibly why I'm reading London and James in a semester when I'm supposed to be reading Pynchon.

And now I promise I will put a sock in it. ;o)

(PS our Mara has four amazing, gifted boys, which hopefully makes up for my having contributed absolutely none to our world. I say "has" like "Mara has knitting needles" but I guess it's more accurate to say, she had them, and now she raises them. Bringing them up in the way they should go, etc. Also they have wicked awesome literary-type names. I wish I lived more proximately and maybe I could be some kind of alternative auntie figure, but presumably am too uncool.)

message 13: by Mara (new)

Mara Laughing, happily, for if having the four boys seems weird, referring to them and not actually having/raising them would be much, much weirder. But it's a balancing thing of knowing that it does shape my perspective and also not wanting to be defined by it? And, yes, occasionally feeling a little alienated at the PTA meeting.

The odd thing, of course, speaking of how everyone knows everyone, is I'd never particularly felt comfortable interacting with people I'd not physically met before the unreliable narrator, and now having gotten through the awkwardness a couple of times of meeting somebody for the first time and having them already know Everything About Me from the blog, I actually feel a sort of impatience in spending time with the real-life mothers of the real-life children my real-life child goes to school with and the polite pretense that any of us has any clue what we are doing coupled with a strong desire to keep saying "I put this so much better in my blog, I wish you would just go read that."

Also, I guess, as I think about the difference between the immersion of being a student at St. John's and doing the readings more or less on one's own, even with friends to discuss the readings with, I do get why I will inevitably swallow the fear and land myself back in higher education. There was humbling in my years at UNM following St. John's; I went from being the high school student who graduated with a perfect GPA to being the one who didn't show up to the last month of classes the semester I got a divorce (long story) went from dying in the competitive atmosphere of 400 person pre-med lectures where nobody seemed to have less than completely venal and/or parent-pleasing reasons for being there to the gentle unworldly shelter of the philosophy department where there was the one young woman associate professor who convinced me to do an honors thesis, had me housesit for her, and showed faith in me a dozen tiny ways. I fear I did let her down, spending my last semester pregnant and exhausted and focussed on life after the university/moving to Prague, and still, from the perspective of a dozen years, can see how that relationship had a sacredness of its own.

And now, with my youngest four months from entering kindergarten I don't think I actually am all that regret-filled, because having kids when you're in your 20s does have its advantages, things like being able to cope with the sleeplessness a little better and a flexible enough world-view to try and creatively make the role your own. We were lucky enough that it wasn't too much of a stretch economically because my husband was an internet whiz kid before everyone was an internet whiz kid. But the slow resumption of my own life is a little anxiety-provoking, and realizing I'm doing it in a different order than most people do has meant generally feeling a little out of synch.

And my kids would totally dig an Aunt Un and find you completely cool.

message 12: by Jessica (new)

Jessica un - THANK YOU / unthank you, i will likely waste LOADS of time there. why mills or reed in particular? ( i know i am SO asking for it!) && I think the limits of trying to do it alone are generally speaking not, ultimately, worth it gets a nod, starting to figure this out.

m - dude, having four boys DOES seem weird? i get all existential-horror about the idea of giving birth anyway & then - extra terror! - having kids. kudos to you anyway! i always jokingly say things to people about how it is so CRAZY & WEIRD that they have children & sometimes i um, offend. so future reference, not trying to be a jerk! just, genuine shock/awe. are they like little PEOPLE? oh GOD.

definitely agree w/ the sense of impatience out in the "real world;" you just want to CUT TO IT, y'know?

message 11: by Mara (last edited May 04, 2009 01:27PM) (new)

Mara Still laughing, maybe because I sometimes look at them and it freaks me out how they were created out of, well, not nothing because I birthed them and fed them and stuff, but yeah, people existing where they just plain didn't is crazy and you would think everyone should walk around shaking their heads at the wonder of it. And not only are they like little people but now they're like a little string quartet -- 12 year old is a cellist, 10 year old a violist, 6 and 4 year olds violinists (okay, so the 4 year old, Rainer, can play all of 3 very simple songs. But he does it with conviction. And I do violin/viola including reading bass and tenor clefs and transposing an octave on the viola so I can play with the cellist. Only now he wants to play Apocalyptica arrangements and I am having to work to keep up. And I just got a banjo for my birthday. And I apologize for taking this thread so way the heck off topic, but I was going to say for the homeschooling myself stuff, teaching myself music theory and banjo and learning what it is people mean when they talk about semiotics are in the victory column for this spring.

And if you should ever to decide to visit Reed which conveniently has no graduate program, you have a couch to crash on.

message 10: by AB (new) - rated it 3 stars

AB Mara, pardon me for continuing the off-topic but I am jealous of your 12-yr-old! I love the cello. Love, love, love. The sound of it, I mean. The instrument itself and I are going to have a lengthy date in my next life.

Jeez, Un, are you trying to make me go back to The Crazy House or what? ;) (Kidding. Kidding. Although you may not be! I dunno, you guys. Reading this is all very informative for me right now, thank you.)

Also, yes to cutting to the chase in the real world etc. etc. This is kind of a simplistic way of putting it but I often don't know what to do with myself anymore in social settings where I know everyone judges by appearances foremost, having been spoiled by y'all here first.

unnarrator people existing where they just plain didn't—

and this is why I love her.

You mean it's rude just to walk up to people's bookshelves and start handling their reading material, and refuse to make small talk, and instead ask piercingly, But what are you doing with your one wild and precious life?

Oh. Well that's probably why they never invite me back then.

unnarrator It is weird to me to think about little people in the sense of, when they're bigger now than they were a month ago, it's because all the sandwiches and spaghetti and cornflakes and apples have been turned into Person. Like, I think of it in a physical-exchange-of-matter-or-mass kind of way and then, if I'm talking to someone about their little person, I can suddenly tell I have the Entirely Wrong Look on my face, like it's probably obvious I'm thinking about how many calories their kid is worth per pound. This should be on a Cormac McCarthy thread—

message 7: by Jessica (new)

Jessica all the sandwiches and spaghetti and cornflakes and apples have been turned into Person


cello gets two thumbs... i literally went like 3 months without rosin (i know?) & then bought some super fancy stuff the other day & could not BELIEVE the sound; am newly enamored. sadly the same day played a little acoustic show w/ one of those sound guys who has never adjusted for anything more obscure than Searing Metal Electric Guitar & so it was a little trebley but whatev.

my favorite sound guy ever (end sarcasm) was the guy who tried to pick a fight w/ me when i argued w/ his claim that he had to put the microphone INSIDE ONE OF THE F-HOLES because "that's where the sound comes out."

message 6: by Mara (new)

Mara "That's where the sound comes out" would also bedeck a tshirt nicely. The only gift the 12 year old asked for for a year was a pick-up to make his cello into an electric cello, so he eventually got one and now -- he can play very loud. Maybe he will grow up to be a slightly cleverer sound guy? We are about to go bow shopping since the child won a cello society scholarship for a bow re-hair worth more than the fiberglass bow he's been playing with; however, my sanity is worth more than trying to take four small people into a room full of expensive instruments so that the only one of them who has the capacity to sit still for fifteen minutes can try out different wooden bows.

message 5: by Jessica (new)

Jessica what kind of pickup did you get? mine's kinda sensitive in the wrong ways (& already leans towards trebley on its own), doesn't allow for a roomy real-cello sound as much as i'd like & so i only use it when i have to, but i've heard there are rockin' ones out there. & bow re-hair! i need to do that too but don't feel like i deserve it right now really? haven't been playing that much over the last 6 months...

i think 4, 6, 10 & just kinda go ugh. man what about when they're 8, 12, 16, 18?? have you THOUGHT about this??? how will you FEED them? it'll be like, throwing scraps to rabid wolves! rabid, mozart-playing wolves!

message 4: by AB (last edited May 05, 2009 07:08PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

AB rabid, mozart-playing wolves

Man, somebody get that on a t-shirt! What's up, Threadless?

unnarrator A former group therapist of mine, very devoted to music, heard her first violin played in church when she was four years old. She had to stand on the pew to watch the violinist but was motionless the entire time, completely transfixed. Afterward she turned to her grandparents and said wistfully: "I wish I had a stick like that."

message 2: by Mara (new)

Mara Would have to go look up the sort of pickup -- I know it's a this delicate little thing that wedges into his bridge, and we affixed some sort of tube to support the wire connection under his tailpiece? My sister recommended it -- she does cello in New Mexico, teaching and performing.

My next t-shirt after "I wish I had a stick like that" is gonna be "Somebody get that on a tshirt!"

Confessionally, I nearly gave up playing for good after a semester of trying to play in UNM's orchestra that was really only meant for music majors except for a brief period when I'd get a babysitter and spend one afternoon a week doing duets with an Australian piano student in Prague. I had so lost any skills or abilities by the time they all started lessons I felt like a complete and total beginner again, which was frustrating and painful but also a chance to rebuild the whole music thing.

The feeding plans are vague, but I try not to look at 8, 12, 16, 18 so much as 28, 32, 36, 38 when I expect them all to be sending me checks monthly. While I travel the world carefree and unfettered.

unnarrator Since this turned into, among other (fascinating) topics, a discussion of DFW's writing as gateway drug, I give you all this, which is gratifyingly validating:


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