Scarecrow

Somehow, the 13-year-old narrator of Hindsight manages to make a friend, a boy named Scarecrow. They meet at the shelter.

“Let’s go get pancakes,” she tells him.

His eyes widened. “You have money?” he asked.

I nodded. “Just a little,” I lied.

As night falls, Scarecrow takes the narrator to his “squat” — “over a small fence” and then through “a large, empty apartment complex” to the parking garage and “a storage closet . . . on the wall.”

“Do you like me?” he asked.

“Maybe,” I answered. I was in uncharted territory and sinking fast.

He tried to kiss me, but I started to cry.

So instead, he held me in his arms, and asked me what had happened. He somehow knew.

This story is almost unbearably sad, but the narrator’s friendship with Scarecrow has an innocence. Scarecrow takes the narrator on a tour of Hollywood: his favorite breakfast place, Tommy’s (“They make breakfast all hours of the day. Pancake special: $1.99”) and Mann Chinese Theatre. It’s a very sweet interlude.

Unfortunately, they return to the shelter for breakfast the next day and someone reports them. Scarecrow’s 19 and the narrator’s only 13. They’re both arrested and the narrator is taken to a facility in a police car.

UGH. She’s put into an orange jumpsuit and told, “You’re a 601.” She’s put in a cell and the guards are tall, beefy women.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

“Go Home, Kid”

The narrator is directed to a youth shelter by a kindly African American woman who spots her wandering around aimlessly — hurt, exhausted, bleeding. She finally gets promised a bed for the night. Horrible things have happened to her, her first night in LA. Self won’t get into it.

Hindsight: Coming of Age on the Streets of Hollywood, p. 55

“How old are you?” she asked.

“Thirteen.”

She probably heard a touch of that Southern accent on my one word . . .

“Go home, kid,” she said, and then she stood up and walked away.

My God, self thinks. All this happened to my student. At the very least, she should have received medical treatment. She should have been tested. A rape kit. Fluids. She was starving. None of that happened.

Self stayed up till the wee hours, reading.

Stay tuned.

Committed.2: HINDSIGHT, p. 29

An 11-year-old who was relishing the start of summer vacation and long hours of freedom instead finds herself committed to a psych ward by her father and stepmother. She lives in two rooms the entire summer: a bedroom (with barred windows) and a dining room.

Her first conversation is with a boy in the dining room, a day after she’s been committed:

The boy next to me whispered: “You should eat that.”

I looked up at him. He was older than me. In fact, everyone was older than me. I would soon learn that I was the youngest kid on the ward. Eleven-year-olds don’t usually get admitted to the adolescent psych unit. Adolescent was a big new word for me, but it meant twelve and older. I carefully surveyed the room, noticing the nurse watching me closely. I nodded and obediently ate the soggy flakes.

Group time came soon after breakfast. Keith, I learned, was fifteen. He was waiting for placement at a nearby group home, and he had anger issues.

Stay tuned.

Dysfunction

Hindsight, Ch. 4 (Married Again)

I was winning. We could stop this.

My father looked at us both, disappointment heavy in his eyes. “What would people think?” he asked.

“I don’t care,” I told him.

We argued for the rest of the day. I didn’t want this woman moving into our house. Something about her was unkind, cruel. I sensed her disdain towards me.

The day of the wedding came.

 

Jonathan: ONCE UPON A RIVER, p. 110

Jonathan’s birth:

I couldn’t take my eyes off him, little fairy creature that he was. He gave a blink and the way his eyelid — you know what it is like, not straight like yours and mine, but set at an angle — it closed over the eye not quite like a normal baby, but nearly. I thought, What does he make of this strange world he’s come to? What does he make of me, his foster mother? He moved his arms, not altogether like my baby girls used to, but more floppy — like he was swimming. A baby frown came into his face and I thought, He will cry in a minute. He’s cold. Beattie hadn’t wrapped him up or anything. Fairy children can’t be so very different from the ones I know, I thought, because I can tell he’s getting cold. I put my fingers against his little cheek and he was all wonder, quite astonished! When I took my finger away his little mouth opened and he mewed like a kitten to have it back. I felt my milk rise at his cry.

For the first time in forever, dear blog readers, self has no inclination to read spoilers on goodreads or Twitter. She’s caught firmly in the fictive net of this novel.

Stay tuned.

Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield

Self decided to buy the hardcover yesterday, from London Review Bookshop. Then she toted it all over London, from Bloomsbury to Victoria Station to Waterloo Station to the National Theatre etc etc and, once back in Bedford Place, read until well past midnight.

Today, she’s toted it around further, from Bloomsbury to the Victoria & Albert (to see the Mary Quant exhibit — four stars!). That should prove how vested — how thoroughly enthralled — she is by this story’s beginning, about a hideously disfigured man stumbling into an inn on the Thames.

A midwife/nurse is summoned to treat him, and the nurse has to turn her back while the man is laid out on the table and all his clothes removed. When he is finally ready for examination, someone has discreetly preserved the nurse’s modesty by dropping a handkerchief over him.

The nurse “palpated bone, ligament, muscle, her eyes all the while diverted from his nakedness, as though her fingertips saw better than her eyes.”

Her white hands stood out against his darker skin.

“He is an out-of-doors man,” a grave-digger noted.

Truly masterful storytelling.

Stay tuned.

The Sensible Mrs. Morland

Northanger Abbey, p. 273:

Mrs. Morland addresses Catherine’s seeming dejection after the abrupt end of her visit with the Tilneys:

“. . . you are fretting about General Tilney, and that is very simple of you; for ten to one whether you ever see him again. You should never fret about trifles.” After a short silence — “I hope, my Catherine, you are not getting out of humor with home because it is not so grand as Northanger. That would be turning your visit to an evil indeed. Wherever you are you should always be contented, but especially at home, because there you must spend the most of your time.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Long Day; Thirsting for Henry Tilney

It’s been a long day walking around Prague. Finally back in the hotel, self finds herself thirsting for Henry Tilney. A wine bar across the street says:

DSCN0101

Henry Tilney, p. 246:

  • If the effect of his behaviour does not justify him with you, we had better not seek after the cause.

The wisdom of a 23-year-old man! He is so kind to our heroine.

DSCN0100

Stay tuned.

“the man she likes”: Northanger Abbey, p. 231

Self flopped into bed at 2 and did not wake up until almost six. Sooo tired! Nevertheless, at some point, she WILL go downstairs, she WILL take the tram, she WILL inquire of passersby regarding restaurants serving “traditional” Czech food. Either that or she will go to the grocery store next door which sells the most amazing, huge, sweet cherries she has ever tasted in her whole life and buy more cherries!

Now to Northanger Abbey: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney and Henry Tilney are in the drawing room, discussing Isabella Thorpe.

“But perhaps,” observed Catherine, “though she has behaved so ill by our family, she may behave better by yours. Now she has finally got the man she likes, she may be constant.”

How candid Catherine Morland is! How artless. Henry Tilney listens without once giving away his true opinion of Ms. Thorpe. For the nth time, self really loves Henry Tilney, because his manners are so exquisite.

Stay tuned.

Henry Tilney to Catherine Morland

Self’s new literary crush is Northanger Abbey‘s Henry Tilney. In his exceedingly dry wit, he is the perfect foil for our heroine, she with the unquenchable thirst for the Gothic, Catherine Morland.

p. 177:

Nothing further to alarm perhaps may occur the first night. After surmounting your unconquerable horror of the bed, you will retire to rest, and get a few hours’ unquiet slumber. But on the second, or at farthest the third night after your arrival, you will probably have a violent storm. Peals of thunder so loud as to seem to shake the edifice to its foundation will roll round the neighbouring mountains — and during the frightful gusts of wind which accompany it, you will probably think you discern (for your lamp is not extinguished) one part of the hanging more violently agitated than the rest. Unable of course to repress your curiosity in so favorable a moment for indulging it, you will instantly arise, and throwing your dressing-gown around you, proceed to examine this mystery.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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