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Puppy antics

coyote pups
Living in the canyon that we do, it is not unusual to look up and see a paraglider overhead on a summer evening.

Loki is terrified of paragliders.

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Good Girls don’t read

reluctant fight
I’ve been thinking about young literary heroines. The ones I remember are, if not tomboys, then at least misfits. Anne of Green Gables was our protagonist, not the respectable Diana. Lucy showed us Narnia, not her sensible sister Susan. The Little House series showed us Laura, with her loud mouth and her inability to sit still, not her pretty and quiet older sister Mary. Angsty Jo was our March sister in Little Women, not the responsible Meg. Pride and Prejudice gave us the hot-headed Elizabeth, not the gentle Jane.

Is this simply the selection I choose to remember, because I prefer the misfits? Or are the models of girls and young women in literature really always so far beyond society’s “norms”? Maybe every girl sees herself as a misfit, making these characters simply more relatable, and if the stories followed the “good” girl, we’d still be reading about a self-described misfit in contrast to the perfect Anne or Jo, because there is no truth in the myth of the Good Girl. Perhaps the mental quirks that lead the author to write simply make it difficult for them to write the story of the Good ones convincingly. Or maybe Good Girls just don’t read, and they aren’t the target audience.

I realize that Jo March and Laura Ingalls are fictionalized versions of the authors themselves. And I’m not interested in exploring C.S. Lewis’s messed up judgements of women. I include these three stories because they are fiction and they have endured, so I see them just as valid in the discussion of misfit heroine v. Good Girl foil as any of the others.

In many situations, stories flow more naturally out of the social misfit, because they are more likely to get themselves in trouble, and more likely to dig themselves in deeper once they do. But Narnia would have been perhaps even more interesting from Susan’s sensible and skeptical viewpoint rather than seeing it through Lucy’s naive and wonder-seeking wide eyes. And Diana’s story about her melodramatic friend Anne, whose obsession with Diana was downright creepy and who nearly poisoned her that one time, would have been fabulous. Even the Good Girls, though we usually see them idealized through jealous eyes, have their own flaws and foibles that would make them admirable heroines.

What examples are there of the Good Girl heroine? The best example I can think of is Jane Austin’s Emma. Emma is a narcissistic, meddling twat, but she is a Good Girl in her social circle, and her story still manages to develop naturally out of her own flaws. I’m not even sure that Sansa Stark, from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, fits in here. She is first introduced as a foil for the troublesome Arya, and only becomes interesting in her own right after her charmed life falls apart in a way she had no control over.

Am I missing a huge chunk of literature that simply never interested me, here? I’m no fan of traditional gender roles and stereotypes, but I’m still saddened by the idea that books of my formative years may have been telling me that if I want to be the heroine, I couldn’t have also been the Good Girl if I wanted to. I didn't read nearly as many stories about boys growing up, so I can't say if this pattern holds true there, too.

rainy day tech woes

cheer up emo kid
Plugging the power cord for John's Toshiba laptop into my Dell laptop would be bad. Right?

And what did you have for dinner?

wonder, childlike empress
Tonight, I learned how to roast a chicken. Served it with some asparagus sauteed in olive oil, and the grandparents and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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There's a newness to her

wonder, childlike empress
Outside, the world is covered in a blanket of new snow. Everything is made clean.

After reading through everyone else's year-in-review meme, collecting opening sentences from the first entries of each month, I went back to check my own. Suffice it to say, I think I whine too much, and I will not be subjecting you all those old moanings again.

I have a new home, a new job, and a new car. I'm making new friends, and I'm learning new things. I've stepped into a new life, essentially. As part of embracing that life, I'm going to try to cut out the attention-seeking complaints around here. Yes, it's my LJ and I can cry if I want to, but it's time for something new.

It's been a long time since I posted anything of significance. I've been in hiding, I suppose. My own personal rehabilitation retreat, if you will.

When I left Chicago, I took the Amtrak out to Grand Junction, Colorado. At twenty six hours, it was a bit different than flying. Flying has a way of making the world smaller and more urban. The train took me through farmland and small towns that once mattered, back when the world was a bigger place. The heartland was full of little communities that were beautifully dignified in their dilapidation; a world quite removed from the isolated truck stops I've seen before from the interstates.

Upon arrival in Grand Junction, I settled down for some relaxing time with family that turned out to be a longer stay than I'd anticipated. My plan was to buy a car and head to Telluride to settle in before the skiing started. My instant gratification, big city mindset did not foresee the possibility of the dealer not having the car I wanted in stock. After taking into account my needs for 4WD, cargo space, fuel economy and price, I'd narrowed my choices down to one car: the Honda Element. It turns out that, in this part of the country, most of the Elements are sold before they even leave the factory. I was marooned at my uncle's house for most of November while the dealer worked his magic to get me my car before I had to leave for Telluride. Being marooned in front of a wood stove with a cat and three dogs is hardly something to complain about, and my car arrived the day I absolutely had to leave, so it all worked out.

Since I arrived here, I've mostly been skiing. In theory, I'm teaching three year-olds to ski, but we haven't had any three year-olds on days I was scheduled to work. Instead, I've been skiing and learning about skiing. It's a good life.

Your rules do not apply here

writing
Innocent until…

What a choice of words: "Innocent until." They could have easily said, "Innocent unless proven guilty," but they did not. Guilt is inevitable.

My calculus teacher was arrested this week, for offences wholly unexpected. I'm sure every female student for the past twenty years could have produced a list of dirty old men on the faculty, and he wouldn't have made a single one. No one I've talked to wants to believe it of him. Fortunately for us, he's innocent. At least until he goes to trial, when, of course, he will be proven guilty. That's the way of things.

He was one of my favorite teachers in high school. He was one of my academic advisor's favorites, too. He'd taught her when she was in eighth grade. I still haven't wrapped my brain around the news. It's a boarding school and generally the rules are different there. It's not the first scandal involving faculty having inappropriate relationships with minors. I don't even think it's the worst. As far as I know, it's the first that wasn't discovered by the school (or the spouse) and quietly dealt with outside the courts of law. Overnight, a teacher disappears. Rumors fly among the students, and rumors fly among the faculty, but no one confirms or denies. The rumors are thought true, because they are not denied. There is no innocence at a place like that.

I'm not sure why this one seems more shocking than the others. Is it because it's the only one confirmed, the only one to escape the Reserve cocoon? Because he sought a minor out anonymously online, which seems out of the way for a teacher looking for minors? Because we wouldn't have pegged him as the type? Perhaps it's the incongruity of it all. The only crime that's punished is the one where the victim wasn't even a victim, but an under cover cop. Maybe we're only upset because it's the newest, and we've forgotten the sting of the others. The other faculty, who knew him far better than I ever did, are just as stunned.

For now, the only thing to do is to try to forget. I'm thousands of miles away; it's not so hard to do. Those who've had to pick up the pieces and even take over his class schedule for the year are choosing denial, which is just as valid. I wonder if this happens at other schools just as often, or if mine is special. Not that anything's happened. He'll be innocent for a while yet, and the others still are because nothing was ever proven. Innocent until, after all.

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