#4 & #8

#8

So this one is kind of a bust already.  I didn’t get pedicures in January or February.  But I did get them in March and April.  I figure if I double up a couple of months that will make up for my first two misses.  The whole reason I decided to put this on my list is because I lurve pedicures, but I rarely make time to get them these days.  In college I’d eat ramen for a week just to afford my twice-a-month habit.  When I moved to Austin I had trouble finding a place that wasn’t a. outrageously expensive or b. had a severe language barrier.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for immigrants coming into the country and working hard to make a better life for themselves and their families.  But if you can’t communicate I do not want you wielding sharp metal objects at my feet.  A basic understanding of, “no,” “stop,” and “OUCH!” isn’t asking too much.  Really.

Anyway…I finally found two places in town that I like and aren’t too expensive–one right by my house and one on the west side of town.  So now I don’t have an excuse.  No matter where I find myself in the city, I should be able to get to either of these places pretty quickly.

Oh and my toes look sooooooo much better than they did when 2008 first started, and I’m not falling into that womanly/wifely habit of neglecting myself.  Yay!

#4

Shannon suggested that I read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls a few months ago, and I have to admit when she first described it I was a bit leery.  I thought it was going to be one of those “poor pitiful me” sagas about growing up with shitty parents.  But I had heard a few things on the news about this woman and figured it was worth a try.

First and foremost this book is anything but a “poor pitiful me” story.  Is they author’s life difficult?  Oh my gosh yes.  That would be the understatement of the century.  But the way she tells her story is incredibly refreshing.  Every hardship is presented in such a matter-of-fact manner that you don’t get the sense that she is trying to elicit sympathy.  Rather she’s just telling you about her life.  There are moments, too, when I think she relishes in the fact that she unflinchingly faced these harsh circumstances and beat them (sometimes literally). 

There are times though I felt she was too blase about the neglect and abuse she and her siblings experienced.  I wanted her to get angry and scream “WHY ME?!?!” a few times.  But ultimately I think it was her mechanism for dealing with such a (for lack of a better phrase) fucked up life.  She didn’t give the circumstances too much weight, and therefore they had little power to control her and drag her down. 

However, it is impossible to read this book and not want to strangle these parents.  If you looked up neglect in the dictionary, you’d find their picture.  Not only did they fail to supervise and protect their children from, oh, say, the dangers of cooking over an open flame, but they also turned a blind eye to all sorts of physical abuse from other family members and friends.  The phrase, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” MUST have been invented by Rex and Mary Walls.  It is their excuse for everything.

And yet, there are moments when you find it hard to completely hate these two people.  In between the frustration and anger that their actions stir up, there are moments of good parenting.  I loved how they treated their children like little adults when it came to education.  There was no Elmo or Barney or Dora.  Instead they taught them about the stars and physics and read great literary works to them.  These kids grew into incredibly intelligent people because they were exposed to all kinds of information.  I’m sure at the time the parents were simply indulging their own interests, but it rubbed off on these kids in a way that flash cards and writing lines of spelling words never could.  It created an insatiable curiosity about the world around them, which proved to be their only saving grace in the end. 

This is a jaw dropping account of one woman’s life, and it is unlike any other memoir I’ve ever picked up.  Definitely add this to your must-read list.

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3 Comments

  1. Chicklit said,

    April 18, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Where is the west side pedicure place? I am in dire need.

    When I was reading The Glass Castle, I could never decide which parent I was more furious with. The dad, for his drinking and alcoholism, or the mom, for putting up with it and refusing to compromise her artistry to feed her kids.

    Also, I think the kids got more of the education early in their lives. I doubt Maureen ever got any of it. By the time they moved to W. Virginia, the parents weren’t educating them as much. Maureen really missed out on that. Ultimately, I think I felt the most sad for her.

  2. slightlycheaperthantherapy said,

    April 18, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Agreed. And I think that’s why Maureen ends up the way she does. She didn’t get the benefit of the sporadic moments of good parenting that the other kids experienced early on.

  3. Larisa said,

    April 19, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    I loved this book. It was so disturbing, endearing, and frustrating all at the same time. Its amazing how resilient a childhood like that must have made the kids for them to grow up to become fully functioning adults.


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