Thursday, September 29, 2005

my new action figure

As a kid, I never really cared for playing with dolls. Yes, I did have Donny and Marie dolls and insisted on having my room painted purple (and wore purple socks way too often). Yet, playing dolls just seemed boring to me. My younger brother, Jerry, didn't really have dolls either. He did have action figures - I remember He-Man specifically.

I thought I was very long past these things - until I was out shopping with my friend KK the other day (while she was visiting up in the area). I found a Jane Austen action figure. My favorite author! I have read each one of her novels - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion. I have read P & P more than any of the others - it must be close to 20 times. And each time I have read it, I have discovered something else new and delightful. Each phrase and sentence is just perfect. Austen packs a whollop with every line! I have read Emma about 10 times. I have read the others at least twice each. The woman was just a writing genius. She could convey so much, so compactly, and with such clarity - it is amazing.

I recall one of my college classmates in our Victorian Lit class. Carita was really down on Austen. She blamed her for not dealing with problems in the larger world - for just sticking with domestic issues for genteel women. Yet, do not all the world's problems come down to human nature? And what writer has displayed a greater understanding of human nature and human interaction?

Some interesting facts on Austen (from my Jane Austen action figure!)
* born Dec 16, 1775; died July 18, 1817
* lived in England her whole life
* never married
* has had over 40 sequels to P & P written by other authors

I think I'll place my new action figure near the Cretan snake goddess in my office. Attired a little differently, yes, but both strong female images.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

lipstick - the ultimate savior

A couple days ago, one of my students wanted to interview me. He is in a class (don't remember which one) where they are supposed to interview some women who have gone through childbirth - and then they will compare notes in a group discussion. As one of those women who did not enjoy being pregnant (perhaps I would have if I could have looked like Jennifer Gardner does right now), I always have plenty to share about those nine months!

Here is my favorite story from that time. I went into labor the Saturday of ACC Men's BBall tournament weekend (you North Carolinians know how serious that is). When Duke lost that afternoon, I was hoping, "Maybe this will send me into labor and we'll get this over with!" My wish was granted later that day.

Hubby and I arrived at the hospital about 4am. I had been in heavy labor for a number of hours and the doctor thought if things kept progressing, Sonny Boy would arrive by about 7-8am. (The other part of this story is that Sonny Boy, with his perfectly shaped, big head and shoulders - did not arrive until after 7pm - thus causing my husband to miss the ACC final - and no, I will never let Hubby forget that comment.)

My parents arrived at the hospital early Sunday morning, anxiously awaiting their first grandchild. My Granny and brother Jerry lived with them (Granny still does, but thankfully a woman came along to take Jerry off our hands :). I spent most of Sunday morning walking up and down the halls, through the waiting area, and just pausing for a contraction. Mom was in the waiting room and was very supportive. At some point Sunday morning, Granny and Jerry arrived. "I thought they were going to church," I told Mom. She shrugged, saying she thought the same. So - I continue walking around in pain, doing my own prayers ("Please God! Get this over with !!!")

Granny didn't speak to me - she just looked and then went to Mom (standing beside me) and said, "Jackie, give Amy some lipstick - she looks sick!" I gave my best outraged, evil eye, while Mom tried to get Granny to sit down and not say anything else that would make me bananas.

Seems like most good Southern women know that lipstick does cure most things.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Chinese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

Here's our little Princess - couple years ago at her bday party. We were fortunate enough to adopt her from China when she was about 9 months old. Even before we invited her into our home and family, we began to invite the Chinese people, and their wonderful history and culture, into our home. Thus, we observe and celebrate the Chinese holidays as best a Caucasian family from North Carolina can do!

Today, we are observing the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. We attended the Triad Area Families with Children from China meeting this evening(after attending the Asheville one for 8 years). We shared food, had crafts for all the children who were there, and then heard the story of the Moon Festival.

So for those of you interested - the story basically starts with a marriage in turmoil. An imperial guard with a magic bow and arrows, Hou Yi, married the beautiful daughter of the River God, a young woman named Chang E. Now these two were a pair - they both craved immortality. (Voldemort, anyone?) At this time in China, there were 10 suns. They would take turns giving light to the Earth - but one day, all 10 came out at once. The heat was unbearable, rivers drying up, people dying, etc. (global-warming, anyone?) So - Hou Yi was told to take his enchanted bow and shoot the extra 9 suns out. He was of course successful, and as a reward the Queen Mother of the Western Heavens gave him a pill for immortality - but told him he could only take it after 12 months of praying and fasting.

Hou Yi arrived home, hid the pill, and dealt with a ticked off and jealous wife. The next time he left to do an errand for the emperor, Chang E searched the hut, found the pill, and immediately popped it in her mouth. She started floating into the sky just as Hou Yi arrived home. Apparently, he could fly too - was pretty angry that she did what she did - and a chase throughout the heavens ensued.

Long and short of it - Chang E ended up at the moon and lives in a jade palace there. She eventually became the Moon Goddess. Hou Yi was able to become the Sun God at some point - they made up, and they visit once a month (when the moon is at its brightest). Tonight - Hou Yi and Chang E are having a visit, the moon is bright, and people are offering up prayers and thoughts to the beautiful Moon Goddess.

In China, they traditionally eat Moon Cakes on this day. We had some of those at FCC tonight - but being North Carolinians - we also celebrate with Moon Pies! (Moon Pies having originated in NC.) Nothing like cultural meshing!

Happy Moon Festival to all.

Monday, September 12, 2005

the maestro

Well, the US Open finished yesterday. I think it may have been one of the best Opens I remember. So many good matches, unexpected wins, well deserved runs (way to go Kim Clijsters!)... And the men's final yesterday was just wonderful to behold. I wasn't an Andre Agassi fan 15 or 20 years ago. He was just far too flashy for me - guess the rebel image will never leave him. Yet, in the 20 years he has played professional tennis, he has matured into a thoughtful, articulate man who is a great ambassador for my favorite sport and also a great ambassador for those in need in the world. And yesterday, Agassi played my favorite man to watch - Roger Federer, the Maestro (as he is called).

I have never seen anyone play like Federer. It is an actual thing of beauty. I could just watch him play all day, every day. I was on retreat with my students at the beach this weekend and didn't know if I would be able to watch any tennis. Thankfully, we had cable and the time was available to see Federer in the semi-final on Saturday. My students graciously let me sit there, monopolizing the tv. One of the young women in my group, C, plopped down and announced she didn't know anything about tennis. I tried to explain some of the scoring, but it is a complicated system. It was at the time Federer and Hewitt were taking the court. Federer comes out, and C exclaimed, "He's hot!" I believe over the next hour or so of tennis, she became as much a Federer fan as I (although for different reasons). I am so glad that I can help young people discover the joys of tennis :)

I felt bad for Agassi yesterday - it would have been a great story if he had won. But to see Federer playing - I just have a hard time ever wanting to see him not play his best or not make his mark in the history books. It is truly a thing of beauty.