Monday, May 02, 2011

Having Missed April...

About halfway through April I found myself in the situation of having so much to write about that I didn't know where to start, and then the guilt set in, and I never could talk myself up to the level of enthusiasm to update the blog.  So, here it is a new month already, there are already a dozen topics that I want to ramble on about that concern the last 24 hours alone (Bin Laden being offed!) and I'm forced to choose whether to continue hiding from blogging in a fit of postless shame or to just go ahead and try to tackle a few, very few, of life's little developments...

My sister tells me that she boiled up two dozen white eggs for decorating before Easter.  Rita (age 6 as of April 18) was preparing the little bowls of vegetable dye, when Brad (age 3 as of February 12) came in to the kitchen and S Dawg asked him if he wanted to dye an egg.  "Yes!" he responded, and, seizing an egg, he ran out onto the back porch, where he proceeded to stomp the egg into oblivion and scatter its guts.  His sister and his mother watched him with their mouths hanging open, "What on earth?!"  Finished obliterating the egg, Brad came back inside.  "There, I killed it," he said.  "Can I "die" another one?" 

Rita has told her mother that she wants to study the history of vampires when she grows up.  She's obsessed with vampires thanks to reading the Spiderman comic, whose current villain is a vampire.  She and her little brother went to the circus on Saturday and now she is drawing vampire clowns.  I wanted to be a florist when I was Rita's age. 

I do know of one woman who penned her doctoral dissertation on vampires in literature some twenty or thirty years ago, well before the current Twilight mania.  She now works part-time as an actress and Queen Victoria impersonator, and frequents the book discussion forums where I post.  I started a thread on crazy hats after seeing pictures of Princess Beatrice's Lady Gaga-worthy toque which she supported to Friday's Royal Wedding.  The thread has way more responses from other Forumites than any other (on more serious topics) that I've attempted over the years.

I lent one of my hatpins to a girl who was getting up at 4:30 AM to watch the wedding at a local bar which was serving a wee sma' brunch in honor of the event--girls all over the area were wearing hats in celebration.  I refused to get up at such an hour to watch the event live--another girl friend taped it, and she's having a party (to which we are all wearing hats) this Wednesday, where we'll watch highlights.  In any case, I couldn't have gotten up that early on Friday because I'd worked 14.5 hours Thursday prepping an estate sale and didn't get home until 1 AM--and had to be at my bosses house by 9 AM Friday morning.

This was the most loathed client in my experience of estate sale work.  We should have gathered the vibe from the sign to the right of the driveway: Service Entrance in Rear.  The house had 9 bathrooms in some 10,000 sq. ft., which included five bedrooms, a three-car garage, an exercise room with a hot tub, two (fully-stocked) bars, and a wine cellar.  It was not the nicest house I've been in as an estate sales agent, despite its considerable size--we visit palatial residences as well as more humble dwellings.  But it was the least cordial of all the owners/executors with whom we've dealt.  She treated us like servants, and she treated her Asian housekeeper like a slave.  Really appalling condescension.  She wouldn't let us put clothes on the furniture, much of which was encased in plastic, and she lectured me on "how we don't wash our hands in the kitchen sink."  We all hated her most vigorously by the time we finished our work, but the sale itself was pretty successful, just judging from the foot traffic and the fact that tables that had been heaped with goods were emptied by Sunday afternoon.

If foot traffic alone were an indication of success, Anita's and my first day back at the market on Saturday in almost two months (it'd rained every one) would have been rosy.  Sadly, most people were just browsing, and so I just enjoyed the cool caress of the breeze on my bare (sunscreen-slathered) arms and sat on the trunk of my car reading Chekhov.

Like many people, I suspect, my only acquaintance with Chekhov heretofore was several ballet/dramatic performances of "The Cherry Orchard", which I found pointless and depressing (the ennui of a dying breed of social class does not appeal to me) and which did not in the least encourage me to investigate this "great Russian writer" further.  But then I decided to write about another famous Russian physician, and figured that if I were going to discuss his cultural impact, I might as well see if Chekhov, who began producing short stories while he was studying medicine with those who had worked with and been taught by Pirogov, had anything to say about him.  So, I checked out what the local public library had by the younger man, and discovered that he was truly a great writer, writing fun and funny short stories as well as more serious dramatic fare. 

I don't understand why it's the grimmest, least appealing work of the so-called "masters" that gets forced down the throats of modern students.  If all I knew of Dickens were Great Expectations, I'd hate the man--I don't understand why high school students are made to read this instead of the decidedly fascinating David Copperfield or Nicholas Nickelby.  At least some teachers choose to make their classes read Tale of Two Cities, which is awesome.  Chekhov is the same--there's so much more great, readable material out there besides "The Cherry Orchard".  And I don't know that students appreciate the "Orchard" as much as they should if they aren't acquainted with Russian history, anyway.  And adolescence is depressing enough without having literary misery hanging over one's head--there are much more "relatable" stories within each man's repertoire--why not sucker students in with these, and then leave them to wade through Bleak House on their own?

Dissertation work is going slowly, but I've managed hours and hours of it.  I have found two explicit Pirogov references in Chekhov thus far, and was glad to see Doctor Zhivago broadcast on one of the local public TV channels this weekend.  In my biography I argue that Zhivago would not have been possible without Pirogov.

Hmm, what else to mention in this belated update?  A couple of friends got married in April, a couple more are getting married in May.  I spent an afternoon with an honorary nephew, whom I got to cuddle more at church last night.  I'm going to have to file an amended federal tax return, which may net me a few dollars.  Irina and I finished the formerly-titled Two Motherlands manuscript and it goes off to published readers soon.  I bought a lamp and parts for another.  I went to an auction in Falls Church, VA, and saw at least five people in a room of forty whom I recognized from my various part-time "second-sales" and artisan market jobs from MD, DC and VA--that community in the greater Washington area is a small one, it seems.  I sold three small items on eBay--my first real success in that medium.  I learned a new Yiddish word, which has a cognate in Russian!  I got my MA diploma from Georgetown and my father's picture framed, and hung them both, and I managed to make it through Lent without chocolate milkshakes. 

The pollen count is finally dropping (unlike gas prices) and I am able to breathe!

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