Thursday, February 24, 2011

apples, eggs and the roof of the world

Standing on the white sidewalk, a set of stone steps leading to the museum were to my left, and a car-lined street to my right. Several blocks away I could see the grander, higher buildings native to the industrial part of the city I was in, but here was the historic section, mostly full of museums.

A tree rose in front of me, about the height of a small house. Most of the branches were bare, but looking far up to the top, I saw a few apple-yellow leaves fluttering slightly against a sky as blue as a robin's egg--the roof of the world, I thought to myself.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


         The video opened on sets of twos and ones. One stage upon which there were two people in two chairs, beside one table on which sat two glasses of water. Or was it one stage, one man, one woman, one table, with two chairs and two glasses?
         The man spoke words of praise for the woman and her accomplishments, his face glowing. The woman sat wordless, her face vacant, almost sad.
         The man stopped speaking and tipped some water down his throat. The woman finally spoke, at first almost embarrassed by the man's complimentary speech as she thanked the man for the interview.
         The man asked the woman a question. The woman then seemed to come to life, smiling and gesturing as she answered.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Five Flavors of Dumb

The last book I read was Antony John's 'Five Flavors of Dumb'.
The basic plot is this: High-schooler Piper, through a weird turn of circumstances, becomes the manager of her Seattle school's resident punk band. The twist is, Piper is deaf.  I was drawn to this book because I have a passing interest in Deaf culture. I don't recall ever seeing a YA book with a deaf protagonist before, and was so happy when I found it at my library.
I appreciated that some nuance of deafness was portrayed, as opposed to full hearing or total deafness. Piper's deafness is described as 'moderately severe', and she wasn't born deaf, she lost most of her hearing at a young age due to genetics. She has a hearing aid which allows her to hear a certain amount of sound, though it's not very useful sound unless it's close, clear and there's not much other sound going on in the vicinity. She is also good at reading lips. While I was initially disappointed at the book having her lip-read, I later realized that just because you can't assume a deaf person can read lips, doesn't mean no one, hearing or not, can ever read lips. And there's nothing in the book that indicates that it's common. Piper just says that she's really good at it. The most important thing in terms of whether or not the book too 'the easy way out', was whether her hearing aid and lip-reading 'normalized' her in terms of her interaction with others, and functioning in a world that assumes hearing. And it did not. She still had special needs, or at least special preferences. She felt whole, but different.
That leads me to another thing I liked about the book. She busted stereotypes of disabled people in the media. She was neither the patient saint, nor the angry, fiercely-independent 'there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with me' person who gets offended at the slightest hint that there are some things that are harder for her. She has plenty of angst with specific people who treat her like she's something broken that ought to be fixed, but she doesn't seem to have angst with herself and her abilities.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Schizophrenic seasons in VA

Despite having had 19 or so years to accept the oddities, every year the Virginia seasons continue to surprise me: 40 degrees in mid-May with the ground still refusing to produce flowers, a light dusting of snow frosting the countryside in November even though it's not expected until January, and 60 degrees in December, the trees still clad in the red, yellow and brown associated with fall. It's a wonder we Virginians even remember how the four seasons are 'supposed' to act.

February in Virginia combines the dead of winter and the balminess of a full-blown spring. The weather goes through a pattern: thick, bright-white clouds cover what seems like the entire sky, and shake snow in great quantities down onto the land, the ground so frozen rock-hard it seems to scowl at you, denying that it EVER allowed a spade to part it. Then the temperature rises just enough to melt the snow, exposing the now-soft earth strewn with bits of dead grass, rapidly becoming a squelching, sucking mud. Finally, the ever-present clouds part as the sun blooms, and the air is so soft and balmy that even the birds venture a few confused chirps.You almost expect a patchwork quilt of tulips, crocuses and hyacinths to spontanously generate.

I keep expecting to be able to have reasonable expectations of what each season will bring, but the fact is, I love the unpredictability of the Virginia seasons.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Common sense?

Perhaps I don't not leave my house often enough to get overwhelmed with personal experiences of other people acting stupidly, for I cannot recall any specific incident in which I shook my head at someone else's seeming lack of common sense. However, my sister has many anecdotes of crazy drivers.

One of her favourite stories is how almost every time she goes through a particular traffic circle in a giant, unmissable 15-passenger van, some other driver almost plows right into her because he wasn't looking where he was going.

My father has countless stories of silly drivers and car troubles, but only one happened while I was in the car with him. He was driving down a big highway when a lady in a white Lexus didn't look where she was going, and sideswiped our little red car. Fortunately for both the lady and my father, that red car was not damaged, just dented. All of our family's cars are already none too pretty, so as long as it doesn't affect the workings of the vehicle, we do not care if another dent or scratch appears on the body.

I strive to be a good driver, to keep my hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road.

Friday, February 4, 2011

India, Italy and Mother England

This blog's title, while a bit fanciful, is inspired by some possible blog titles bandied about during the first meeting of my English Composition course this morning. Those titles were in turn inspired by the ethnic backgrounds of some of my classmates,  though none of them mentioned England.

I thought up the England part, partly because the title needed more words to achieve a good syllabic flow, partly because it sounds cooler than Germany (my own ethnic background, about which there is little of the romantic--lederhosen, beer and capitalized nouns excite me not at all), but mostly as a play on words, as this blog is a companion to my English Composition.

Yes, I know that English as a course subject has little to nothing to do with England the country, but grant me some creative license in the title. I strive to keep all information presented in any assignments accurate, relevant or at least entertaining and not presented as fact.