Substituting one thing with another that’s just as bad isn’t the same thing as quitting or letting go. – @GrinningDuchess, Twitter
Amen, @GrinningDuchess. Amen.
Jennie invited self to attend a Women in Business Workshop yesterday on the Claremont campus (Self doesn’t know why, but she never noticed before how beautiful the campus is! Especially Scripps). Here’s Jennie looking oh-so-prepped in black jacket, purple top, grey tailored pants, and pumps.
Anyhoo, the workshop was so very, very interesting. Every participant got to take home a free book. There were stacks of choices. Self picked Doing Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown.
The Introduction talks about the value of living “wholeheartedly.” There’s a list of 10 Guideposts for living “wholeheartedly”:
One of the great things about visiting son is that, since he and Jennie are psychology grad students, there is no dearth of reading materials that address various subjects having to do with self, the psyche, etc. The speaker yesterday, Michelle Bauman, is a Personal/Business Coach. She talked about how most people’s mindsets lie on a continuum between “fixed” and “growth,” and how the proportion between one or the other changes as we learn from experience.
They served lunch. Ohh, the mango and coconut mousse was so great.
Seated next to self was a striking woman who introduced herself as “Music Watson.” Self couldn’t resist asking her where she got her first name. Her response: “My parents were hippies.” Self asked if that meant they liked Carole King and James Taylor. She said, “More like The Doors.”
Yesterday, in the milling around between panels, a student named Yael, who self guessed (correctly) was from Tel Aviv, and was a grad student in Information Systems, came over and introduced herself. Then another student came up. Self thinks this is because they assumed she was a Claremont professor. Self was wearing black pants, a black jacket, grey pumps, black stockings, and a beige top. I guess no one could be blamed for thinking she was a professor! She bought the clothes special for the trip, when Jennie told her the attire for the Women in Business event was “business casual.” A saleswoman in Anne Taylor Loft on Santana Row brought out the grey pumps, on sale for $19.95! Self used her own black jacket, but she did buy the black pants which – she didn’t notice until yesterday — had zippers down the calfs. Cool!
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
Dear blog readers may well wonder how self got to p. 241 so quickly. Well, she has decided that she can best enjoy Black Lamb and Grey Falcon if she takes it in small doses. That is, if she elects to read only specific chapters. Otherwise, she might still be lugging around this 1,000-plus page behemoth months from now. Which would greatly exacerbate her chronic neck and shoulder pain.
If dear blog readers think that’s a crackpot plan for reading a book, self would just like to say that she used that method when she was a graduate student at Stanford, and it never failed her. Never.
The chapter self is reading today is Dubrovnik, which self began after finishing the chapters Split I, Split II, Split III and Saloniae.
Dubrovnik used to be known as Ragusa until it became part of Yugoslavia. The name was changed because it was thought that Ragusa “sounded Italian.” (p. 230) According to RW, “it should be visited for the first time when the twilight is about to fall, when it is already dusk under the tall trees that make an avenue to the city walls . . . ” (p. 231) How self wishes she had decided to approach Venice in the same way. She got into Venice at mid-afternoon on a scorching hot day, and after taking a bus from Marco Polo Airport, her first sight of the Grand Canal was in bright sunlight, and it had no romance at all. In fact, the Grand Canal on that unseasonably bright day in April looked much like the main lobby of the Venetian in Las Vegas. Which self has visited more than once. And there were masses of tourists. And self was just so disappointed.
Back to BLGF. Somewhere in this chapter, self remembers reading that the word “argosy” was derived from Ragusa. Which makes sense. But self cannot point to the exact page where she came by this information. She knows it is here in this chapter somewhere, but the text is so dense and crammed with historical facts that after 10 minutes of looking, she still can’t find it. Never mind. You can take self’s word for it: the word “argosy” derives from the ancient name for Dubrovnik.
There is so much here about rulers and petty negotiations and the class system and social injustice because RW knows everything. Everything. She doesn’t bother to cite her sources so you’ll just have to take her word for it. She’s either a genius or completely cracked. At least, she writes in a tone of very convincing authority. :
The Republic was surrounded by greedy empires whom she had to keep at arm’s length by negotiations lest she perish: first Hungary, then Venice, then Turkey. Foreign affairs were her domestic affairs; and it was necessary that they should be conducted in complete secrecy with enormous discretion. It must never be learned by one empire what had been promised by or to another empire, and none of the greedy pack could be allowed to know the precise amount of the Republic’s resources. There was therefore every reason to found a class of governors who were so highly privileged that they would protect the status quo of the community at all costs, who could hand on training in the art of diplomacy from father to son, and who were so few in number that it would be easy to detect a case of blabbing. They were very few indeed. In the fifteenth century, when the whole population was certainly to be counted by tens of thousands, there were only thirty-three noble families. These could easily be supervised in all their goings and comings by those who lived in the same confined area.
Next chapters: Dubrovnik II, Sarajevo I, Sarajevo II, Sarajevo III, Sarajevo IV, Sarajevo V, Sarajevo VI, Sarajevo VII, Sarajevo VIII, Belgrade I.
When people choose between talk about the past and talk about the future, a pragmatic person will always opt for the future and forget the past . . . it is always best to speak pragmatically to a pragmatic person. And in the end, most people ARE in fact pragmatic — they will rarely act against their own self-interest. (p. 98)
* * *
In your quest for power, you will constantly find yourself in the position of asking for help from those more powerful than you. There is an art to asking for help, an art that depends on your ability to understand the person you are dealing with, and not to confuse your needs with theirs.
Most people never succeed at this, because they are completely trapped in their own wants and desires. They start from the assumption that the people they are appealing to have a selfless interest in helping them. They talk as if their needs mattered to these people – who probably couldn’t care less. Sometimes they refer to larger issues: a great cause, or grand emotions such as love and gratitude. They go for the big picture when simple, everyday realities would have much more appeal (Obama, are you listening?) (p. 98)
* * *
“Most men are so thoroughly subjective that nothing really interests them but themselves. They always think of their own case as soon as ever any remark is made, and their whole attention is engrossed and absorbed by the merest chance reference to anything which affects them personally, be it never so remote.” – Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), quoted in a p. 97 sidebar
TO INFINITY AND BEYOND! A 10-point checklist of milestones on the Silicon Valley Road Map to Riches (p. 129, November 2013 issue of Vanity Fair)
Also, self simply cannot believe that next week, she is dropping by the grand Miami International Book Fair, for the first time ever, and the keynote author is: DAN BROWN.
Is this for real? Is the universe playing some kind of cruel trick on self?
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
November 8, 2013 at 12:37 am (Books, Lists, Recommended, short story collections, Women Writers)
Tags: advice, essays, humor, interviews, Just published, lists, novel, reviews, San Francisco, short story collections, The NYTBR
The Pile of Stuff is humongous! Actually humongous!
There are issues of The New York Times Book Review dating as far back as September!
But self cannot bring herself to end her subscription, which she’s kept up for over a decade.
Anyhoo, she is as usual very short on time, so she does a quick browse-through of aforementioned issue of the NYTBR, and is so excited to discover (from reading the “By the Book” interview with Richard Dawkins) that he recommends a book called Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, because self absolutely needs to have guidance in this area. And Dawkins recommends another book that self thinks would really help her in her social interactions: Avoid Boring People, by the eminent Nobel-Prizewinning molecular biologist James D. Watson.
Dawkins also mentions that he has not interest in reading Pride and Prejudice because “I can’t get excited about who is going to marry whom, and how rich they are.” But self IS greatly interested in the topic, so she adds Pride and Prejudice to her reading list (She read it decades ago; it’s definitely time for a re-read!)
This issue of The NYTBR also has a funny story about Gary Kamiya, and it turns out he is a pack rat, just like self. His new book has a fabulous title: Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco.
This issue’s Fabulous Author Photo (There’s always at least one, in every issue) belongs to Chinelo Okparanta. Kudos for not only having a Fabulous Author Photo, but for actually being exotic, Ms. Okparanta! She migrated to America from Nigeria at the age of 10, and the first part of her book, Happiness, Like Water: Stories — the “more powerful” part, according to reviewer Ligaya Mishan — is set in Nigeria.
There is also another fabulously titled book: an essay collection called Sister Mother Husband Dog (Etc.) by one of the fabulous Ephrons (Nora passed away recently, but thank goodness she had writing offspring like Delia Ephron to perpetuate the legacy).
At the very back of the issue is a section called “The Shortlist,” and here are four International Thrillers, which includes The Kill List, Frederick Forsyth’s latest, and Masaryk Station, which sounds like it ought to be by Martin Cruz Smith but is actually written by David Downing.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.