Lost positives

So, I just finished The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. It’s a young adult book that’s almost really really good. It is good, but it’s just on the verge of being much more. It’s about a girl who suddenly gets pretty between 9th and 10th grade at an exclusive prep school, causing her to attract the attention of a type of boy she had never previously attracted. She’s annoyed, though, that she attracts the attention, but that doesn’t really make her belong. She’s “the girlfriend.” She’s not invited to the excusive boys’ secret society, so she secretly insinuates herself in anyway, without their knowledge.

The good parts are that it really captures that feeling of being “the girlfriend.”

Most young women, when confronted with the peculiarly male nature of certain social events — usually those incorporating beer or other substances guaranteed to kill off a few brain cells, and often involving either the freezing-cold outdoors or the near-suffocating heat of a filthy dorm room, but which can also, in more intellectual circles, including the watching of boring Russian films — will react in one of three ways.
Some, like Trish, will wonder what the point is, figure that there probably is no point and never was one, and opt for typicaly feminine or domestic activities such as crumble-making, leaving whatever boyfriends they have to “hang with the guys.”
Others, like Star, will be bored most of the time, but will continue attending such events because they are the girlfriends or would-be girlfriends of said boys, and they don’t want to seem like killjoys or harpies. If the boys are there, playing games on the Xbox (indoors) or letting off cherry bombs to make a big noise for no reason (outdoors), the girls will chatter among themselves and generally make a quiet display of being interested in whatever the boys think is interesting.
The third group aggressively embraces the activities at hand. These girls dislike the marginalized position such events naturally put them in, and they are determined not to stay on those margins. They do what the boys do wholeheartedly, if sometimes a little falsely. They drink beer, play the video games, light off cherry bombs. They remain alert during obscure Russian films. They even buy the beer, win the video games, and show up with an M-80, just when the cherry bombs are beginning to get old. If required by their social circle, they read articles on Andrei Tarkovsky.

It’s almost great, but not quite. Frankie doesn’t want to be the Bunny Rabbit. Frankie doesn’t want to be the baby. Frankie doesn’t want to be the adorable girlfriend. But she also doesn’t want to play field hockey, because it’s only a girl sport. Frankie only wants Matthew to notice her, but she almost doesn’t want to notice herself. She is angry that the club that her father joined won’t take her, because she’s not a boy, but she seems resourceful enough to found her own club, a co-ed club. She seems like she might be bright enough to move beyond Matthew and his boring friends. But she doesn’t.

Th author keeps stressing that she’s just an ordinary girl. I guess I want her to be more than that, and the scene with Matthew, when she reveals that she’s the mastermind, doesn’t quite ring true. She should realize, I think, that Matthew is never going to “see” her, but that other people might.

It certainly does remind me, though, of a period in my life, going to excrutiatingly boring parties with the boy I was going out with because it was supposed to be fun, or in college, hanging out with the boys on my floor who were exactly as boring as described above, because I thought they ought to be more interesting than my high school girlfriends. But they were actually as boring, but in a different way. It is a wierd position, when you want to be part of exciting things, but the exciting things prove to be very boring. I guess I wish it had ended with the possibility of her hanging out with people who actually were interesting.

Anyway. I’m being critical, but I actually enjoyed it a lot.

Back again:

I like Frankie’s friend Trish, who is the one who opts for crumble-making. (Frankly, I think crumble making is a worthy pursuit.) I like the author’s depiction of boys, and who they are willing to allow you into their world on sufferance, but are not willing to enter yours. My highschool boyfriend wanted to go to the boring beer parties at his friend Andy’s house. He did not want to come and hang out with me and my friends. I think a better resolution would not have been Frankie refusing to play field hockey because the more important part of th population does not play field hockey. There was another, slightly interesting, girl, and I wish the resolution would have been that F, and maybe that girl, and maybe Trish and the previous boyfriend would have formed their own prank society. I don’t like the idea that she’s conceding that the male half of the population is more important than the female. But perhaps what Frankie wants to do is to become the president of a bank, and I suppose there really are more male bank presidents than female.

Hmmm. I am possibly thinking about this more than it warrants. I’m also thinking about the boyfriends my kids have had — N’s boyfriend and she had overlapping circles of friends, and sometimes they hung out with one and sometimes the other, but she was pretty adamant about not spending all her time with him, or ditching her friends. M’s boyfriend comes over here a lot, and sometime they watch violent shoot-m-up movies, but they do also watch Mulan and Princess Mononoke.

Hmmm.

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Oh, Christ

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So now, N wants to take a course on the Indians of Maine. It could be good. It does involve a weeklong fieldtrip, and she is now considering American Studies as a major.

I think this is just the way it’s going to be.

M thinks she is going to be too busy to go skiing with us this weekend, which is going to disappoint K.

My keyboard is making a funny twanging noise.

I have to figure out how to get N back from Maine with all her belongings. I hate buying plane tickets. They cost too much, and when you finally buy them, exactly then do you realize that there’s another thing you forgot to consider and the date you’ve chosen is ever so slightly bad. But there’s no refund. Ha ha. For a hundred dollars we’ll let you reschedule!

I finally conceded and am wearing spring-ish clothes, and now it’s cold. Ha ha.

My stomach hurts.

Furthermore

What do the names mean? The main character is Osama. His uncle is Jihad. Jihad is a worldly gay man, a champion pigeon-raiser. Osama is a guy sort of outside his culture. What is the deal with him — he never marries, either. He’s sort of extraneous, really. They have an Uncle Ma’an, and Ma’an is some sort of Druze hero.

Early on, Osama is worried about God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and that Abraham would actually have done it. This sort of tickles me. I’m sure as a child I would have had similar worried. I suppose it’s supposed to show that Abraham would have done anything, but to a child it’s rather troubling. Why would a God want anyone to do something so awful? What sort of a god is that? Osama gets his mother to admit that she would not sacrifice him even if God asked, even though she doesn’t believe in God.

This, I believe, is also the holiday that brings Osama back to Beirut, and maybe somewhere it’s said that it’s the only holiday the Druze celebrate.

???

More pondering.

Here’s an interesting review. And another.

Stuck

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This sprung up all unannounced at the edge of the patio. It’s borage. Isn’t it pretty?

I’m stuck.

I’m 70 pages from the end of the Hakawati. Will it pull all together? I have to think about it, but I can’t do it yet. I’m getting a little tired of bouncing from story to story to story. Is that the point? That you don’t get one story isolated from all the other stories? That your life (it’s the story of the life of one guy who grew up surrounded by family in Beirut and then was sent away to UCLA when he was too young because his parents wanted to get him out of Beirut which was falling into civil war) can’t be separated from the story of your parents and grandparents and what’s going on politically plus all the mythological and historical things that have gone on in your part of the world? That it’s all just a story, but then people do get hurt? The stories are sort of interesting — I mean the mythological part about King Baybars, which is actually a story told in an even more mythological story about two twin boys who are half human half jinn. (And what is the thing with all the snakes and spiders and scorpions?)

It would be interesting (to me, and to no one but me) to figure out how you would do this for an American person. M is studying American history this year, and since the Mormons have kindly placed my geneology online, I can see that one piece of my family history interacts with the history she’s studying. They settled in Maine in the 1600s but were repeatedly driven out by the Indians. At least one was was killed by Indians, and one was accused of being a witch in Salem! My branch of the family moves back to Maine, and then, later, you can see that they start moving across the country after the Civil War, which I think was a time when people started moving around, moving west. That particular relative leaves children in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona, where my grandfather was born. My grandmother’s parents came to Canada from Scotland, and it’s not inconceivable that people in that family married Loyalists who had left the US during the Revolution. It is kind of interesting to start sticking people into historical events. But then what myths would you use — Wabanaki myths? Maybe.

Hmm. This could so be a middle school family history assignment.

Okay. The other thing I’m stuck on is the green vest. I’m finally to the back, and I realized I messed up the cabling. I could leave it. (I’m not actually a fussy person.) I’ve abandoned it on the couch while I reflect. It will be August before the blasted thing is done.

And M has still not finished her paper. Unsure about intervention. If she doesn’t watch out, she’s going to be stuck. Trapped in 11th grade for the rest of her life. Now that would be hell.

Okay — I’m out of here.

Unsettled

Everything seems all wrong, and I don’t really know why.

The weather? March?

I have all kinds of things up in the air — that might be it.

N writes cryptic messages about majoring in Russian studies, a subject which has never previously interested her.

M has an overdue paper and appears to be refusing to study for a test.

Just that sort of thing. Strangely annoying.

Hmm. Also, there are two family reunions in the works for this summer. Those are two of the up-in-the-air things. Hmmm.

That just might be the answer.

Ho hum.

Did you see the moon this morning? It was exactly half, and glittering. Very beautiful.

Okay.

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Holidays sadly uncelebrated

It’s St Patrick’s day, and M forgot to wear green. She realized when we were on our way to school and discussing whether we should have corned beef and cabbage for dinner.

(Which is sort of a mystery. It seems to be called new England boiled dinner, and it seems to be what you eat on St. Patrick’s day, and why there should be a connection between those two things mystifies me. It is apparently unknown in Ireland, but that isn’t mystifying. I don’t think they dye rivers green there, either.)

Anyway, she was quite sad. I have Irish-great grandparents, too, but she has red hair and an Irish surname and is 17, AND has a garish green sweater sitting upstairs unworn. Her backpack is green, but apparently that doesn’t count.

Gosh I would like to stay home. But I can’t, so I’m off.

Bye.