Wednesday, October 29, 2008

As close to the action as I wanna be

My family wonders why I never became a teacher. Given my love for school from Kindergarten onward and my strong background in Language Arts, it might've seemed a given that I would become an English major or get an Ed. degree and become a teacher. I've said, for most of my adult life (and all through my adolescence) that I don't want kids. I've got about a decade left before having kids becomes difficult but I'm perfectly content to let others have the children. My sister knows I'm going to be the crazy aunt with the cats who scares the neighbourhood kids etc, etc.... I've been lucky to turn my love of reading into a job where I can share my love and knowledge with those who really could use it.
My experiences in the school library system are not numerous yet, but I've been around long enough to see the WHY (as in, why I never became a teacher) of this whole thing. I'm not knocking teachers and EA's -- they have difficult but (for the most part) rewarding jobs, and I applaud their mountains of patience. I just do not have the patience for it. I learned that when I was trying to help my sib with her homework eons ago. I was not a very patient person then. I don't lay these experiences at the foot of adolescence, either. I don't think I'd be very good with kids nowadays, either. My motto is 'As long as they aren't mine, I'm fine.'
A parent from the Parent Council came in with her year-old to do some work in the library at one of the schools. I tried to keep the little girl busy with the board books my predecessor kept for the Kindergarteners. The parent noticed and complimented me as being good with children. She asked the question I sometimes get when I do well with kids. 'Do you have any children?' My immediate (though unspoken) answer is 'God forbid!' I usually smile and shake my head. Makes one wonder why I got into the school library system, eh? It is a little frustrating when you have a half dozen kids asking for your attention, but I think I'm getting better at keeping myself in check. It isn't like I'm snapping at the yard-apes yet. Give me a few years...
Anyway, I had an experience today at one of the schools that brought everything into focus for me. A couple of EA's routinely bring in some of the Special Needs students to the library to work on Math or Reading. I know almost all these students on sight, which I consider to be a minor triumph in itself. Anyway, I was working at my computer and occasionally listening to this group's progress. One of the EA's had the patience of Job, as her student was just constantly getting stuck in quicksand and stumbling along. I know, if it had been me as the EA, I would've submitted my resignation without too much thought. Then again, what would I be doing as an EA?
Being a Library Tech. in the school library system brings me close enough to the action without going through the whole mess of teaching, and that's as close to the action as I want to be. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Praising Piers

Mundania's most esteemed traveller to Xanth is whom I praise this evening. Piers Anthony of Florida; author of Bio of a Space Tyrant, Xanth, Apprentice Adept, and MANY other series. It was the Xanth series I first fell in love with. My dad, to whom most laurels must go, introduced me to puns when I was in my pre-teens, and I seized upon the copious punnery one finds when one travels to the extraordinary land of Xanth through such novels as Demons Don't Dream, Isle of View, and my personal favourite, The Color of Her Panties. I've read his earlier Xanth works and have learned that the series wasn't always so pun-ridden. There's barely any pun-work in Centaur Aisle or Castle Roogna; not that I miss it when I read these earlier works. His most recent works in the vein of Xanth are becoming overly-cluttered with puns. Who can blame him, when the fans are the ones who send truckloads of ideas and embarrasingly dreadful puns to him every day?
He has, of course, written series in a more serious vein, which is where Bio of a Space Tyrant and works like Incarnations of Immortality come in. The latter is a most remarkable series as well, and I recommend it highly. The idea to praise Piers Anthony came while I was reading the Apprentice Adept series. This series also deals in alternate universes and is lightly sprinkled with punnery and doggerel, but is more serious than Xanth and jumps from SF to Fantasy with nearly every chapter. I am coming to enjoy this series as much as I have the Xanth series. Just the right amount of realism and punnery without the plot getting lost, and the characters are fantastic.
Stile, the main character of this series, crosses into the Fantasy universe of Phaze to escape being killed, but continually has to shuttle back and forth from Phaze, where magic rules, to his home world of Proton, where he plays increasingly competitive games to keep himself alive. I'm presently reading Blue Adept, which is the second book in the series. Again, highly recommended. The one series I should read but have not yet had the pleasure is Bio of a Space Tyrant, but that will shortly change. I close this post down with a few final praises of Piers Anthony's work. There is no doubt that Xanth is my favourite of the series he has crafted, but to be completely balanced, I would suggest that you read as much of his other masterworks. Man cannot live on bread alone -- he'd just loaf around that way.

Friday, October 17, 2008


There are thousands of articles and books out there where women are looking at men with all manner of lenses and thinking about men from every angle. I'm rereading Sam Keen's 'Fire in the belly' these days, and I asked my dad if he was interested in reading it. He politely declined. For those not in the know, 'Fire in the belly' documents 'the path' men must take if they are ever to feel comfortable with their gender; especially in relation to the female of the species. Contrary to popular belief, men are not in charge and they never really have been. Although men still receive higher salaries (for the most part) than women do, women have always had power over men on a psychic level. Anyone remember Oedipus and his problems? Keen's remedy for men lost and fumbling is to first get as far away from Woman as possible, and then rediscover their maleness while surrounded by other men.
I don't know if Keen is right, but looking at my pater, I'm tempted to disagree with Keen. My dad was an only child; he's married with two daughters (which is plenty of Woman for any guy), and is doing rather well. My dad never (as far as I know) went through the supposed mid-life crisis when he hit his forties (mid-fifties right now, and no crisis in sight). It makes me wonder if this mid-life stuff is really as intense as popular culture insists it to be. But, getting back to Men in general.... There seems to be an intense reliance on Woman if one looks through the history of music and literature. One song that's been echoing through my head (and my radio) lately brings this reliance to life. Prince's 'Raspberry beret' from the 1980's.
First off, I'm not that fond of the song, and the video could be better (even considering the decade it was done). I've had the time lately to listen to the lyrics and it seems to me that, for the 'hero' in the song (too-leisurely him that works in the local five-and-dime), nothing really changes until 'the girl' walks through the 'out' door with her second-hand story raspberry beret and very little else (listen to the lyrics for more info). She knows how to kiss, according to Prince, but it seems that before she walks through the door, nothing matters. Just a really silly and illogical example of Man's intense reliance on Woman one sees in pop culture.
Anyway, I'm going to continue reading 'Fire in the belly'. Do I agree with the message Keen's presenting? There is no doubt that men these days are stuck in a kind of paradox, and without one you cannot have the other, so I guess Woman has him trapped again. Perhaps I do agree with the message, but for some men, this paradox is not a real big deal. Anyone out there thinking differently? Drop me a line. Thanks and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Personal myth

I finished reading 'The stories we live by' the other day, and even now, I'm not sure about it. The author speaks of cultivating our personal myth as a way to understand the self and share the self with others. I've read this book before (about a year ago) and it blew me away then. After a year of thoughts and looking at the world through semi-Buddhist eyes, I'm not sure I am able to put together a personal myth. The author speaks of creating said myth, regardless of whether or not it is illusion. I'm not looking for illusion, but 'reality', so wouldn't following this concept be defeatist for the path I'm travelling? I'm not obligated to do this, and for now, the question is mere rhetoric. I'm not saying this wouldn't or shouldn't be for everyone. If cultivating your own personal myth brings you closer to a better understanding of yourself, go for it. I just don't think it would work all that well for me.
I first came across the concept of the 'personal myth' while reading 'The manticore' by the late, dearly-beloved Robertson Davies. One of his characters underwent therapy and he and the therapist constructed his personal myth over several weeks, starting from his childhood and going all the way up to the present. The personal myth concerns discovering all the facets of one's personality (characters) and influential people in one's life (also characters, to a lesser extent). Keeping a diary will also help this process, for then one's established a sort of timeline and illusion can be anchored by 'historical record'.
I have said that I doubt very much that my beliefs would let me get away with cultivating a personal myth. Also, I might be a little too young for such an activity. Most people, those who put such an idea into play, have lived for several decades (in their late thirties, at least) and are trying to understand the meaning for their journey, be it very painful and difficult or easy as pie and smooth as silk. I'm at thirty's doorway, but not over the threshold yet, so I think I'll just stick with my diary and my own explorations. Perhaps a time will come, in the not-so-distant future, when I will have a sit down with a therapist and recount my history as I know it in an attempt to cultivate my personal myth. Just not right now.
Very good book, however. Informative and worth a read. Au revoir!