May. 5th, 2009

juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Title: Children of God
Author: Mary Doria Russell
Published: New York: Fawcett Books, 1999 (1998)
Rating: 4 of 5
Page Count: 438
Total Page Count: 73,977
Text Number: 218
Read For: sequel to The Sparrow, borrowed from the library
Short Review: This sequel continues where The Sparrow left off. Sandoz is finally beginning to heal after the traumatizing events on Rakhat, the first known alien planet. He renounces the priesthood, but the Jesuit Church insists that he return to Rakhat to finish the work he started; meanwhile civil war brews on Rakhat as Runa declare their independence from Jana'ata. Children of God is similar to The Sparrow in many ways, but pales in comparison: many literary techniques reappear but are less effective; the various themes and Sandoz's story are all well-intended but fail to have such a strong impact as they do in the first book. All in all it's not a bad piece of literature and there's no harm in reading it, but I don't consider it a worthy sequel.

Long review. )

Review posted here on Amazon.com.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
Funny how when actively posting, I find ever more topics to post on.

Some thoughts about cats
  • Last night Dude wanted in the room while I was lying backwards right in the center of the bed—so all the space was taken up by disheveled pillows and myself. After snuggling he climbed to the freest space: he parked himself on my pillow and lay in a crescent shape that wrapped around my head. it was remarkably intimate. I felt blessed.

  • Ate most of a very tasty organic pizza, let Dude into the room, talked to Devon, and then noticed that the cat was being remarkably quiet and not demanding cuddles. Dude had helped himself to the last piece of pizza—he ate a surprising amount and was not the least shamed when we took the rest away. Little bugger does love both cheese and bread, but still—I wanted that last slice!

  • Dude shows affection by asking to be in the same space and then demanding cuddles (often on a regular, half hour interval). When cuddles are not forthcoming, or when they are not directed to the correct location, he will put his paw on your hand and drag it to where it should be, or else put his paw (and claw) on your cheek. When cuddles are remarkably good, he provides thanks via lovebites. I am very tolerant of claws and nibbles; the rest of the family, not so much.

  • Madison shows affection by infrequently coming close, meowing, occasionally climbing up on the chair with you, and consenting to attention. She also appreciates spontaneous petting which wakes her when sleeping. Particularly good cuddles are rewarded with two or three licks. All interaction is eventually rewarded with rawr crazy cat attack kill, whereupon she will, with no explicit provocation, bite and claw and then run away.

  • I haven't had cats around since my early teens, and even when we had them when I was a kid they were very rarely indoors. I've always "gotten" cats on a fundamental level, and likewise always associated myself with them. But cats are so remarkably individual, if united by their universal batshit craziness, that living with these two is like having two very small, very vibrant, fur-covered roommates who blessedly cannot speak English. They are as complex as people. I feel an inherent connection, yet they still delight me with personalities that defy complete comprehension.

Some thoughts on all the rest: me, my daily life, menstruating, reading, Devon
  • I often have one brutal day in my menstrual cycle, the first "real" day of menstruation when my flow is suddenly incredibly heavy, my body is more sensitive to food and sleep, and I get worse than usual backpain (my version of cramps). But with where I am in life right now, I have the chance to pander to my body's whims on that day: bedrest, hot pads, reading, chocolate, sleep. A day which is made entirely indulgent and body-aware entirely justifies any physical discomfort. It's like rediscovering menstrual cups: menstruation may not be wonderful joyful fun, but it is affirming and peaceful to be so intimately connected with my body.

  • I could hide the above behind a cut tag, but hopefully if menstruation talk squicks you you stopped reading pretty early on.

  • I read a lot of books and most of them are better than worse, but there's still a very immediate pleasure in discovering one that I really enjoy: a near-physical rush, like endorphins. I love reading for readings sake but the immediate and total pleasure of the ones that turn out to be my favorites are what make it feel worthwhile.

  • That said, in this same book: People rarely recover from depression, anxiety, or related mental illnesses via "shock therapy"—including anger-based therapy, e.g. I make you so mad at me that you can no longer be upset about X. Yeah, I'm sensitive to this because for a long time people tried to use it to fix me. Nonetheless the Dr. Phil approach of confrontation and breakthrough rarely works. This author is tackling a lot of big issues and handles most of them well; she's does a fair job with mental illnesses so far, but still: recovering from mental illness is, the vast majority of the time, a slow and gradual process. Breakthroughs may feel like satisfying plot devices but they're rarely effective means of longterm recovery.

  • My days have officially stretched to ~26 hours, and my sleep schedule is currently reversed. I don't know why this happens—it isn't always ongoing, but every few months I stay up a little longer and my sleep cycle slowly walks around the clock. I'm enjoying it a lot this time, though. It's very calming to work through the night, I've been quite productive, balancing SL blog posts and book reviews and reading and even a bit of writing all at the same time (which I've never done before), and it is incredibly relaxing to go to bed with quiet, warm light suffusing the room. The only danger is that as I walk around the clock, I'll have a few days when I see remarkably little of Devon.

  • Speaking of: I love my boy very, very much. It's little things, like cooking late night meals together or making love or watching him play an hour or three of Plants Vs. Zombies today, that make me feel especially joyful and in the moment. When asked how things are with him I always say "good, not perfect, but very good." It's important to me to acknowledge that things between us are rarely "perfect"—because it makes the parts which are good, are so very good and immediate and pure, seem all the more real and important.

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