Doctor Glas

“We want to be loved.  Failing that, admired; failing that, feared; failing that, hated and despised.  At all costs we want to stir up some sort of feeling in others.  The soul abhors a vacuum.  At all costs it longs for contact.” (as quoted in “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry,” by Fredrik Backman; from “Doctor Glas,” by Hjalmar Söderberg)

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Phoebe and Her Unicorn

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This book was brought to my attention the other day.  Since I have a fair amount of experience with unicorns (and loving them), I was intrigued.  Also, the unicorn’s name is Marigold Heavenly Nostrils.  NOSTRILS.  Yes.  So, you see why I had to read it.

One of the things I do as an adult now that I NEVER did as a kid or a teenager is read things like author bios, forewords, footnotes, endnotes, whatever.  It’s like all the special features that come with DVDs except in BOOKS (I almost never bother with special features).  The introduction to the first volume in this series (there are 3 books right now) is written by Peter S. Beagle – you know, the guy who wrote “The Last Unicorn.”  And he loves it.

Here’s what he says:

“I would dearly love to claim at least some connection to the origins of Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, the innocently arrogant unicorn who preens so charmingly through Dana Simpson’s delightful comic strip bearing her name.  And perhaps I can.  Scholarly articles have been written, after all, about the fact that prior to my 1968 novel The Last Unicorn there were no female unicorns to be found in any of the world’s varied mythologies.  And in the early pages of that book I did write, ‘Unicorns are immortal.  It is their nature to live alone in one place: usually a forest where there is a pool clear enough for them to see themselves – for they are a little vain, knowing themselves to be the most beautiful creatures in all the world, and magic besides…’

“A little vain…Marigold would be an appalling monster of ego, utterly self-concerned and completely unlikable, if it weren’t for her sense of humor and her occasional surprising capacity for compassion – both crucial attributes when bound by a wish granted to a nine-year-old girl in need of a Best Friend to play invented superhero games with, to introduce to slumber parties and girl-talk gossip and to ride through the wind after being called nerd and Princess Stupidbutt one time too many.  For Phoebe is a remarkably real little girl, as bright and imaginative as Bill Watterson’s Calvin, as touchingly vulnerable as Charles Schulz’s Charlie Brown.  And if these strike you as big names to conjure with, I’ll go further and state for the record that in my opinion Phoebe and Her Unicorn is nothing less than the best comic strip to come along since Calvin and Hobbes.  Simpson is that good, and that original…”

And you should read the rest of this for yourself.  And the whole book.  Because it’s high praise to compare it to Calvin and Hobbes and you know you want to find out if that’s true.

 

Today and last night

I was updating this from my phone last night using the mobile site, which worked up until a point.  Exiting the keyboard seemed to cause the page to freeze up and the button to post my entries would get lost somewhere on the bottom portion of the screen, which became inaccessible to me.  Drafts could still be saved, so I didn’t lose anything, but it still took much longer than necessary to post.  Also, same issue with my attempts to add categories – page freezes and inability to navigate to the section I needed.  Very frustrating.  I thought perhaps the app had improved since the last time I’d used it, but after reading user comments it doesn’t seem to have evolved.  My next thought was, well, maybe it’s time to jump ship to some other service.  I have a Tumblr I’m not using for anything…  Oh, but the comments on THAT app were as bad if not worse than the WP one.  I’m not sure what user experience is supposed to be the good one – only the actual site?  (I complain about the administrative side of WP all the time, so hmmm…maybe there isn’t one unless you host it yourself and can manage/configure the back end? I rest my case as I try to scroll down in their *new* editor and find that, once again, I CAN’T. Srsly, eff you, WP.)

My tea is ready! I really wanted the chai, but it’s caffeinated. No.no.no.

We did a storytime today for a life skills class. They’re high school aged kids of all different abilities who have some special needs, and they all have personal aides who assist them with various tasks. One of the things they do as a class is take field trips every week to visit different places in the community and learn about them – police station, fire station, library, Costco. They also practice shopping and going out to eat (so they can use money in real life situations). They were headed to Walmart and Culver’s after visiting us. A. and I gave them a tour and then read them a few picture books – I did a rousing impression of “Pout Pout Fish,” and “A Boy and His Bunny” (which is about a boy who wakes up with a bunny on his head). The bunny story was the last one and I had to talk them into it, as A.’s reading of “Memoirs of a Goldfish” went a bit long. “You’re TIRED of stories?” I asked them. “But this one has a bunny in it. And bunnies are my favorite. AND it’s short.” OK, they said, we will listen to the bunny story. They did. Because it was awesome. And I did not lie about it being short.

Because we had storytimes for little kids happening in our program room, we had to do our storytime and craft at the seating area behind the Information Desk. Which means we were pretty much on display for everyone in the library. Instead of angry patrons complaining about the noise, I got a lot of positive feedback from all the adults who witnessed what we did. My coworker, S., sent me an email afterwards and said what we’d done was GREAT, and that we’d really made the kids happy. Which made me feel really great, too. Mostly, I rely on feedback from the kids I work with – because they’re the ones that I see and interact with. Often, my coworkers don’t get to see what I do, which only adds to my Mystique, of course, but also my Invisibility. What DO you DO? Actually, I don’t think anyone questions what I do or THAT I do. I just don’t get a lot of opportunities to show off, so this was nice. I guess I’ve come a ways from being super shy. Also, it’s easier when you have someone working with you – A. and I work pretty well together.

I was reading Jeff’s novel this evening and put it aside for a moment. When I looked back there was his name on the cover and my brain came up with, “Omigod, I KNOW him.” Yes, brain, yes you do. And then I felt a wee bit silly.

It finally feels like spring!