Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tag, I'm It

It has been a very long time since I’ve updated. That has a lot to do with being busy with work and very tired when I get home, but it has more to do with the things that occupy my mind when I’m back at work. Does anyone want to read my thoughts on teaching algebra to all eighth graders, or on whether or not the National Board for Professional Teachers is easier for teachers from rich schools to achieve, or should I or should I not get new cabinets for my kitchen (the answer turned out to be that I shouldn’t)? My mind has been much occupied, but not with anything interesting.
PJ sent me a meme in which I was supposed to tell seven things about myself—that’s it. I thought this was what I would start writing about, but even that has taken a long time because it was so open-ended. Most of the people who read this already know me well, so I don’t think I can say anything that people don’t already know, but here goes:

1. I have a horrible fear of slugs. People find this really funny, and so do I, when I’m nowhere near a slug. When I am near a slug, I will scream and run and hyperventilate. If I’m on a hike and I come across one, I will run. You know what’s funnier than this stupid fear? People who feel they can talk me out of it. Fellow science teachers have helpfully said, “But, Vicki, they can’t move faster than you.” Lately, I’ve been able to make some peace with the fear. A fairly large slug comes into my kitchen at night whenever it is warm outside and I have had to learn to go into the kitchen when he/she is there, and I do, though I stay very far away. Also, if I’m pulling weeds and I see one, I will just move far away instead of running back into the house for the rest of the day. Baby steps.

2. Fun with Irony: My favorite place to be is in the California redwoods. I love the smells, the quiet, the filtered light, and the dampness. I love everything about them, except for their most famous denizen. See number 1 above.

3. As much as I fear slugs, I fear losing self-control even more. I fear saying or doing something stupid. When I see movies where the characters decide to take a chance on…whatever, I am filled with awe and envy.

4. I have never been drunk (slightly tipsy twice) and I have never used drugs, even though I went to Berkeley in the ‘70’s. See number 3.

5. My life as a free-range chicken buying, Ferry Building shopping foodie is a fairly recent thing. My children, I’m sure, would gleefully tell you that they were raised on a diet that included Tater Tots, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and canned peas. I saw the light a bit late in life.

6. When I learned to sew in eighth grade, it was as if I’d finally learned the skill I’d been waiting all my life to attain. My parents could tell that sewing had won my heart and they surprised me with a Singer sewing machine for my birthday. That was my one and only machine for the next 30 years, when I bought my beloved Viking machine. But the Singer allowed me to attempt many, many things that I now, on looking back, find pretty funny. Not content to stick with making skirts and aprons when I was 13, I decided to make myself a two-piece suit, complete with skirt and jacket. Where I thought I would be wearing such a thing in eighth grade is beyond me…a job interview? Anyway, never one to have much taste, I went right ahead and made myself a pink stretch polyester suit and, yes, reader, I wore it.

7. I am fascinated by life-changing moments. For example, in 1977, my new friend PJ was sitting in our dorm lounge reading a novel from one of his classes. He was laughing out loud and I wanted to know about this book that he found so funny. I had already noticed that he read at a much higher level than I, but I asked him if he thought I would enjoy the book. He said he thought I definitely would and so I got myself a copy of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I did love it, and thus began my great love of not just Austen, but Dickens, Trollope, and Burney as well. I’d like to think I would have found my way to these authors by some other path, but I don’t think I would have. That would have definitely been a less fulfilled life for me.

Alas, I have no one to tag, so I'll have to be a dead end.


Unknown said...

Northanger Abbey is really funny at the beginning, but I eventually got annoyed with it. I just prefer my Austen heroines to be a bit more interesing, I guess.

I really miss tater tots now.

vicmarcam said...

What? No tater tots in Russia? I tell you, you have to open that American store. Imagine, all the ex-pats could come and buy tater tots and pop tarts.

I wonder if I should reread Northanger Abbey. I say this because I saw a Masterpiece Theater version not too long ago and I quickly became irritated with it, and there were parts that made me cringe. I assumed that it was just the production. Maybe I shouldn't reread and just let my memory be a memory.

Unknown said...

Apparently there is a store where you can buy lots of foreign stuff (including English magazines), but it's really expensive. I won't go near it because I know I'd buy stuff and then feel bad about spending $10 or whatever on a box of junior mints (I am probably exaggerating).

I can't see a production of Northanger Abbey working, for exactly the reason I gave - all of the really good lines in that book are the narrator's. The protagonist is too passive to be interesting, but at the same time you could tell the author found her too sympathetic to want us to laugh at her much, either.

In the other two I've read (that's Emma and Pride and Prejudice), the protagonists are less sympathetic and far more intersting. You still know who all is going to end up together in the end, but the journey is more interesting when your protagonist isn't a lovesick puppy by the end of the first chapter.

I never finished Mansfield Park for this very reason.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

ha ha, Marin, I kept thinking, I wonder if she's read Mansfield Park? -- and there was the answer at the end.

Northanger Abbey is sort of an oddity in Austen's novels -- it gets classified as one of her six major novels, but it really is a bridge between her juvenilia and her five mature novels. Like her juvenilia, a lot of it is satirical and parodies attitudes, literary styles, and ideas conventional at the time (like the nature-worship of the early Romantic movement or Mrs Radcliffe's Gothic novels).

As the world's leading expert on Vicki Baker, I have to correct a few items in the Northanger Abbey story: You forgot to point out that it was during finals week. It was my sophomore year (I was taking Margaret Doody's class on 18th century English novels) so it was 1978. All the science and engineering people studying for finals in the lounge were glaring at me because my "work" involved chuckling over a slim novel. So, fearing their spitefulness, I asked you to watch the book for me when I went to the bathroom. You read the first page to see what was making me laugh. The rest is herstory. And now you can give yourself credit for discovering Jane Austen on your own, since you never asked me about her.