Relations to the past

I was reading the section of Janet Wallach’s book Desert Queen about Gertrude Bell where her coworker A.T. Wilson was enraged against her due to a report she had filed.  On that day in my life, it spoke to me as I had just gone through a similar experience.

I have done a lot of reading on the Middle East post-World War II and knew the “basics” about the area pre-World War II.

This book opens the door on the Middle East and how it came to be formed pre-World War II and around World War I.

Gertrude Bell was born in the right place and at the right time.  Life didn’t grant her everything she wanted yet in that, life granted her infamy and the creation of a country.  From the comments I’ve seen on the Internet, many do not like her and what she did and what she was part of.  Yet she is an unknown in the story that created  the world as we know it today.


Bombs Dropping

I picked up A Constellation of Vital Phenomena over the summer when I saw that Sarah Jessica Parker was starting her own book club.  I put it down because it hurt to read and then when it was announced that the US had dropped bombs on Syria, I went and picked it up again and finished it.

Anthony Marra, the author, takes us through the lives of the characters living in Chechnya and how their lives are continuously intertwined during a war that is dragged on and on.  Marra gives a voice to the voiceless, the forgotten, that somewhere people’s lives are for the most part still continuing on and the small, heroic acts of courage that are forgotten.



Deus servet Reginam

God save the Queen.

No, not Queen Elizabeth II here but rather her predecessor, Queen Victoria.

I watched the PBS adaption of Daisy Goodwin’s Victoria in between running calls for the local EMS where I volunteer.  I felt like I didn’t miss much yet when I got my hands on the audio book and listened while driving, I realized I did.

Royalty memorizes people the world over.  Victoria was no exception.

At the age when most people are out on their own, breathing in the freedom of adulthood, Victoria was crowned Queen over the British Empire, something the sun never set on.

I don’t envy her that spot and I believe most people wouldn’t either.  Victoria did what she had to do.  Yes, she made her mistakes but she pulled through.  Most people are familiar with the plump, older Queen pictures but Daisy Goodwin focuses on the before coronation and directly afterwards, along with the people, like Lord Melbourne, who were in Victoria’s direct sphere of influence.

I also found and browsed the companion book to this.  History never fails to fascinate.

Poe’s Little Known

I found this book in the discarded “donation” pile.  I went to school with a man who shared with me his huge appreciation and knowledge of Edgar Allan Poe.  Yet I don’t remember us discussing this book.  The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.

What a mouthful.

All I could think of while reading this is any early version of Lord of the Flies or Heart of Darkness.  Perhaps both Golding and Conrad drew inspiration from this book?

I know schools could never go through every book of the English canon.  Yet I believe this  would hold some attention and teach as well.  On a third level, though, I can see where it would not fly with political correctness.

Mr. Pym finds himself in a heap of trouble and hiding out on a ship that goes through a mutiny.  Along the way there is a “ghost ship” that sails by, giving forewarning and foreboding of what is to come.

Poe writes this from the angle of someone giving him something.

One can only imagine the terror of Mr. Pym.



Alone Time

For anyone who has ever driven around with weird stuff in your car, this book is for you.

Michael Paterniti, the author, takes a cross-country trip with Thomas Harvey, the man who performed the autopsy on Albert Einstein and conveniently kept some of Einstein’s brain.  They bring it to Einstein’s granddaughter in California.

While reading the book I had to go online to search for updates.

I never knew so many people’s brains “disappeared”.  I know about President Kennedy’s but Mr. Paterniti fills in some historical, unknown facts.

Why would a person keep someone’s brain?

I’ve read things over the years about theories behind Einstein’s brain yet I’ve also learned it is how you use your brain, train your brain, and the amount of time you put into learning that counts.

Every brain looks the same unless ravaged by disease.

Einstein had a lot of “alone time” when he was younger.  This gave him time to think about things after he accumulated his knowledge base.  As a person he was less than perfect and was 100% human.  His personality, or lack thereof, or just being in the right places at the right times, brought him notoriety.  Einstein read books and went on a lot of hikes yet he needed other people to take care of him and keep him on track.  He had a daughter that all but disappeared into the ether and never said what happened to her.

Yes, Einstein gave humanity a formula for understanding the world around us but in his later years he didn’t “produce”.  History seems to forget that and that part of him is not taught.

I’d rather leave my creativity to the world than my brain in Tupperware traveling across the country.

Pot by the Road (A Client Story)

I saw the pot on the side of the road.  Just sitting, all alone.  It looked as if someone had taken it out of a car and forgotten it.  It was March, too early for leaves or flowers if there were to be any on its’ branches.

I was back a few days later.  That pot was still sitting there.  I drove over and swung the car around so my passenger side door was next to it, parked, got out, opened the passenger door and tossed the pot it.  I drove home carefully that day, trying not to knock it around.

When I got home I found a shovel and planted the plant in there.  A few weeks later pretty dark pink blossoms appeared.  In the two years since, it gives me the same blossoms each spring for a few days.

Those blossoms remind me of the client I was seeing when I found that pot.

The client was a third party referral and third party payer, something I appreciate because I know once the contract is signed and then I turn in my hours, I get paid.  Yet by the end this one brought more of a story than I was expecting.

My client lived in a condo complex off of a main artery that had a gated parking lot.  They didn’t drive so they didn’t have the pass code to the gate.  No problem, I waited for someone to come in and park in the unmarked spots.  No one bothered me until one day a man started following me from the building to my car and was threatening to call the police.  I thought it was because of the gate but I quickly realized he thought I was pimping.

I had the municipality’s non-emergency police dispatch number in my phone less than five minutes after I was home that day.

A bit of background: due to the third party arrangements, the client’s guardian squeezed every minute out of me they could get and refused to take less than an hour and a half at one time so I just made the sessions two hours to lessen the amount of times I would have to go.

The next time I just parked on the street and wedged myself through an opening in the gate.

Driving home I would have the windows rolled down.  The condo had a very interesting smell and my significant other would comment when I walked in the door.  Those clothes were immediately stripped off and in the washing machine.

The longer I was with my client the more I found out that helped some things I had observed make sense.

When I talk about my 85% to 90% success rate, this client was one of those I don’t know the outcome or outcomes.  I was summoned after they had failed their licensing test the first time and met the usual resistance.  They had certain expectations and their guardian had others.  The meticulous notes I found in the book and paperwork were not my client’s.  The second time their score went up yet it was still under what the State was requesting.  We used up the hours right before they were scheduled to take the test a third time. I left my client with a detailed, written instruction list of study tips, review tips, piles of organized flashcards, a notebook with notes, and a message of it is up to you to study for this.

I called the third party for a followup but never received any.

To this day I still don’t know what happened with them.  I wonder when I go by the area where they live, if they are still there.

I hope life has treated them well and they passed on their third try.  I think of that when I see the pink blossoms in the spring.

Marjorie Hart: Summer at Tiffany

I found this book in a Little Library.  It’s not something I normally would have picked up but it looked interesting.  I’m not a big Tiffany fan yet I do have a pitcher from there that is still in the trademark blue box and I have never used.  It’s tucked safely away for a special occasion.  The person who gave it to me said: “Everyone should have a gift from Tiffany”.

Marjorie tells about being in New York City in the summer of 1945 and about being young.  From what I can find she is still alive and in her 90s.  Marjorie and her friend Marty go to New York City through connections (yes, you should always have connections first) and work at Tiffany as floor girls.

This was a nice book to settle down with at night.