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The Last Storytime

In Books, Hazelnut, Peanut on May 22, 2017 at 2:42 pm

So it seems quite anti-climactic to follow up my last blog post with anything other than a reaction to the election, but right now I don’t have the time to quite do that topic justice. Suffice to say, a terrible thing happened, and we need to be praying — and working — for the disenfranchised whose suffering has increased, and for the millions of people who don’t seem to care.

In the meantime, though, as hard as it has sometimes been to believe, life goes on. Winter came and went as always. Work continued for Tolkien and I. School proceeded along for Peanut, who’s now finishing the second grade. (Cue shock and awe.) And Hazelnut is now almost three and a half. Over the past few months, it’s been easy to mourn the sometimes disheartening world in which these two will be growing up, so I’ve been making a concerted effort to focus on the positives.

One of those positives is the fact that, since residency ended (which was around the same time we became parents), I have always worked part-time. For almost 8 years, I have had Mondays off, which I spent solely with Peanut until she went to school and which I now spend with Hazelnut. This is a huge blessing for our family, and not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for it. One of my favourite things to do on these Mondays is go to toddler library storytime. (That is, it’s one of MY favourite things to do. The kids, they could take it or leave it.)

I don’t know if I’ve gone into this before, but I love libraries.  Part of it is simply that I love reading, and part of it is that I grew up in a town with an incredible public library. (The first time I took Tolkien there to visit he was openmouthed at the five-floor glass building on top of a hill with a sweeping view of surrounding towns and an in-house coffee bar built long before such things were ubiquitous.) But my love also stems from the fact that I think it’s amazing that society considers it important to provide this service to its citizens. Free books, free classes, free events for children, free computer access … especially now that we’re in a time in this country when everyone seems to want to deny privileges to their neighbours, I realize that even things we’ve always had could be taken away, so I don’t want to take them for granted. Since I was a very young kid, I’ve just been moved by the idea that stepping into a library gives you access to thousands of free books.

So it’s probably no surprise that one of my very favourite things about being a parent has been picking out books for my kids. It’s a huge treat for me to go to the library once every couple of months and spend an hour curating two new stacks of books to enthrall a seven-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy respectively. (Obviously said seven-year-old and three-year-old can’t actually accompany me on this trip or none of this would get done.) I especially love finding books that I read as a child and attempting to brainwash my kids into adoring them too. I’m already sad about the day when both of them are old enough to pick out their own books. Apparently then it’ll creepy if I keep hanging out in the children’s section.

In any case, storytime (which in our system has the politically correct name of “children’s educational programming”) is also part of the library experience for me. I think it’s just lovely that a librarian selects several books to go along with a theme, some titles of which I may not have heard of either. It’s so sweet to see a bunch of babies and toddlers lisping along to the songs that go with that theme. It’s fun to see Hazelnut interact with other kiddos his age, as Peanut did. And I most love snuggling with Hazelnut while he’s still small enough to fit in my lap, as I did with Peanut before she grew like a weed. It’s not like we don’t snuggle at home, but in public he’s maybe 1/8 less rambunctious than he usually is, which if my math is correct translates into 2 more minutes of lap snuggling than I’d get at home, where the temptation to leap off a bed while hollering “To infinity and beyond!” is too great to resist for long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just like every other parent, and the actual listening to books meant for a toddler comprehension level gets boring pretty fast. But the overall idea still makes me warm and fuzzy.

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However, I realized recently that Hazelnut is starting preschool this fall. He’ll be gone on Mondays. And Peanut is about to finish school for the summer, which means we won’t be going to toddler storytime (I’m sorry, CHILDREN’S EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING) for the next couple of months because we’ll need to find a Monday activity that engages both of them. So today was my last library storytime. Oh sure, there might be one or two more in the future if there’s a Monday when Hazelnut’s school is cancelled or what have you, but for all intents and purposes, an era is ending here. Eight years of library storytime. Eight years of having a child at home full time. Eight years of raising a baby or toddler. Gone like that.

Someone told me once that every stage of raising kids has its pros and its cons, so Tolkien and I have been trying to enjoy the positives of each stage rather than dread the upcoming negatives or long for the departed good stuff. There are certainly a lot of things that I think will be great about having older and adult children. I will never miss potty training, for example. And if I ever miss being woken up all night long, you can be confident that I’ve suffered a severe head injury. But for today, I’m going to let myself be a little nostalgic about the precious Monday mornings I used to spend listening to picture books and songs with one of my chubby little ones. And I may or may not be making a mental list of story time locations for the grandkids. 🙂

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Mishmash

In Books, Christianity, My thyroid, Peanut, Tolkien on February 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I am so impressed with these mommy bloggers who post every day and still have fed and clothed children. Where do they find the time? I’d be patting myself on the back if I could post once a week.

Since I am not there yet, though, let me give you a quick update on what’s been going on over the last couple of months, category-style:

1. Tolkien – Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Only 4 months left of residency, and then only a year of fellowship before our decade of combined medical training is finally over. It’ll be tough for awhile yet — he’s currently cramming for the first of 3 board exams over the next 18 months, which means even less time he’s able to spend with us — but we can’t help but feel a bit encouraged.
2. Peanut – “Mama,” she told me after receiving excessive hugs and kisses while she wanted to be doing something else, “I have TOO MUCH LOVE.” What a problem. She is the poster child for gender differences being inborn and not environmentally determined, given her sudden and random development into a fashionista. She is currently obsessed with skirts and dresses and how her hair should be done. We’re puzzled about where this has come from. I’ll admit I really like fashion, but given that I now work from home, she doesn’t see me dress up that much, so I don’t think she’s getting it from me. Tolkien lives in scrubs and doesn’t wear ribbons in his hair (to my knowledge.) So, school? It’s a mystery. I don’t like too much of an emphasis on physical appearance, especially for girls (I want her to place her value on her brain and her soul), but I also don’t want to be a killjoy, so I’m trying to go with it in moderation for now. I also took her ice skating for the first time recently, something we did all the time growing up in Canada (and I am no athlete), and it was a moderate success, in that no one ended up in the hospital.

In her salwar kameez

In her salwar kameez

There’s nothing wrong with wall-hugging. Or hogging.

3. Me – Had my 10-month thyroid cancer follow-up yesterday, and my endocrinologist says we need to go through all of it again in a few months — the low-iodine diet, radioactive iodine, isolation — for some long and boring reasons. A big bummer. As always, your prayers would be appreciated!
4. To be filed under “Divine Timing” – Tolkien and I took our first vacation in 5 years two weeks ago, by going on a Carnival Caribbean cruise, just days before the ill-fated Carnival Triumph took its most famous voyage. We had a fantastic time, which is lucky, because I’m pretty sure that if I had seen feces dripping down walls that I would never, ever, ever go on vacation again. Like, ever.

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

5. Favourites – I love reading quizzes people fill out, so here’s a quick one on me. If you feel so inspired, send me your answers to these questions! Really, I find them fascinating.

Favourite colour: Red and purple
Favourite number: 17
Favourite book: Way too many to list. Here are some that come to mind immediately. My disclaimer is that this list is in no way inclusive, and that some titles are listed not because of their literary greatness but because of their exceptional creativity.
The Blue Castle, L.M. Montgomery
The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
The Likeness, Tana French
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, Amy Krause Rosenthal
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
Favourite food: Chocolate, French fries, raspberries
Favourite exercise: Oh dear
Favourite herb: Dill. I came to dill late in life, but now I adore it. I credit this recipe with lighting the fire of my love. It’s actually addictive.
Favourite current TV shows: The Office (though it’s not what it once was, my loyalty shackles me), Downton Abbey
Favourite meal out, ever: It’s funny, as there are so many wonderful meals we’ve had over the years. But for some reason, one that really stands out is a delicious meal Tolkien and I had 9 or 10 years ago at Nawab, an Indian restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia. It was nothing short of amazing that an ethnic restaurant in an area not known for its ethnic diversity could create such a perfect tikka masala, naan and lassi, from start to finish.
Favourite animal: Zebras? Because of the symbolic nature of their black and white skins and how harmoniously they create a whole? I’m stretching here. Seems I don’t care much for animals.
Favourite quote: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Favourite chore: Washing dishes. And cooking, if that can be considered a chore.

6. Speaking of cooking, some of our favourite recent recipes:

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Vegetables being prepped for Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Soup (I’m not a huge fan of soup, so I never think to make it. But Tolkien is, so one day I decided to search out a recipe. This disappeared fast.)

Pink Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies for Peanut’s class Valentine’s Day party.

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Pistachio-encrusted broccoli pesto salmon and mushroom orzo.

… and much more, of which I have no photographic evidence. I would invest in a better camera, but then I’d need to remember to use it to take pictures of things. Dilemma!

7. Collective treat for the day – A must-watch clip of the Downton Abbey cast doing a spoken-word performance of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” You’re welcome.

Opinion-Sharing With the Woman Behind Kelly Kapoor

In Baby Howie, Books, Celebrity Obsessions, Christianity, Tolkien on December 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

My family has always had that stoic Indian thing going on wherein one generally remains responsible and thoughtful as much as possible and avoids unnecessary emotional outbursts. (Read: all emotional outbursts.) This translates into some very pragmatic Christmas traditions, such as not wrapping our gifts to each other because they’ll just be unwrapped anyway. We are Christians, so it’s not like the holiday isn’t important to us, it’s just that it’s always been a religious occasion first, a gift-giving occasion second. I believe in this philosophy 100% myself, so that’s totally cool. (Although I will admit that once Tolkien and I got married, my family and I did start trying to throw around some tissue paper every December so as not to totally horrify him, the child of a family that recreates a Norman Rockwell Christmas every year.) Anyway, my brother Baby Howie, who you will remember is not a baby and is not named Howie, went one step further and, when ordering my Christmas gift online on Black Friday, just had it delivered directly to my house. I opened it on Dec. 3. I am proud to be the latest, very late owner of an e-reader. We will see how and if this revamps my life. And the first e-book I purchased was Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

I was going to use a picture of me reading the book, but it's an e-book. It'd just be a picture of me and a 7-ounce electronic device sitting on the couch.

I know that to be cool I should pretend it makes no difference to me that we’re both Indian and around the same age, but dude, that’s totally why I like her. Plus she writes and acts on my favourite show. (As an aside, I just love that four of NBC’s current hit shows have major Indian characters whose Indianness is incidental, not pointed out at every opportunity for cheap laughs. Outsourced excepted.) Of course her book was great and made me laugh out loud, but the thing that really hit me was how much I agreed with one of her essays, entitled “Don’t Peak in High School.”

In the ongoing debate about why kids from some ethnic backgrounds tend to do much better in school than others, the basic American assumption that high school should be the best years of your life, filled with dating and sports and parties, has got to be given some blame. I always remember my great-uncle, the father of three Ivy League grads who are now well-adjusted professionals, telling a story about how his daughter’s high school guidance counselor balked at her challenging course schedule because it didn’t “leave room for her social life.” To my relatives, the very idea is preposterous. Academics need to be arranged around a social life? Are you in school to prepare for a lucrative career or to increase your chances of getting voted “Best Legs” in the yearbook? Teen books and TV shows programmed me to think I was deprived because high school was definitely not the best four years of my life (of course, moving to a new country in the twelfth grade didn’t help), but as Mindy points out, they were wrong and we were right. You know what the best four years of my academic life were? Not high school, not even college, but medical school. For the first time I was around hundreds of driven people who had the same goals I did and weren’t afraid of people seeing them working hard, but who also believed in playing hard too. It was brain-enhancing and socially stimulating at the same time. In all, it was so much fun, and it was made more so with the added knowledge that we were all headed for a life of public service and gainful employment. As Mindy says, where are the kids from that stupid “Jack and Diane” song now? Pumping gas? The day that: 1) crowds of spectators show up at Math League events instead of football games, 2) dating is seen as something you do in your twenties to find a good spouse, and 3) hanging out with your family is considered just as cool and important as hanging out with your friends, is the day this country’s educational standings will start rising. Mark my immigrant-child words.

I also really liked MK’s anecdotes about the kindness Amy Poehler showed to her. One of the things that having gone through a major move at a crucial time in my teenage life taught me was exactly what it feels like to be a new kid on the outside. It’s really nice to hear that some people remember that even after they’ve made it big. And I think I agree with MK that the single funniest moment on The Office was when Michael is driving along smugly talking about how much he cares for his employees and then promptly breaks Meredith’s pelvis with his car. That was hilarious. But I’d probably have to rewatch all 7 seasons to make my final determination. (I’ll use any excuse.)

For the record, though, I do not agree with MK that cap sleeves should be worn by no one. Are you telling me this is not cute?

Or this?

I didn’t think so.

A Little Side Project

In Books, Girls of Canby Hall on October 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Most people who were pre-teen girls in the 1980s and ’90s were, I have found, rabid fans of the various Young Adult series that were out at the time: mainly The Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High. I was absolutely obsessed with the BSC, so much so that I could probably still tell you the vital statistics of all the members of the club. I was less into SVH, but still read the vast majority of the books in that series before I was old enough to know better (which is later for some people than others. For me? College.) There were a lot of other lesser-known teen series and authors I enjoyed, though: The Stepsisters, Candice F. Ransom, Lurlene McDaniel, the list goes on. My number one favourite series, though, was The Girls of Canby Hall. This series always seemed to be overshadowed by the far more well-known BSC and SVH in terms of popularity. Even when the Canby Hall books were still being published, I didn’t know anyone else in my school who read them. My awesome Grade 2 teacher, Mrs. Beck (who I have failed at finding on Google many times over the years) doubled as our school librarian and used to authorize me to leave class and go see her in the library whenever they got a new Canby Hall book in so I could check it out first. (Although jumping to the head of a line of one was hardly something to get a swelled head about.) Like I said, she was da shizzle.

I'm not sure Mrs. Beck would be all that proud.

Recently I have found that I am not alone. There is a whole group of women my age out there recapping their old teen novel favourites, and it is hilarious. I was first turned on to this phenomenon by this Washington Post article about a number of modern-day women writing Baby-Sitters Club blogs. I personally really love re-reading my old teen novels, both for the nostalgia factor and to make snarky internal comments about how ridiculously cheesy and untrue-to-life they are. No “good” character ever does anything “bad,” and vice versa. It’s preposterous, but I have to admit that their sense of moral innocence is part of their charm. These days, when I go into a Barnes & Noble and flip through a book in the YA section, I’m taken aback by how dark and R-rated they all seem to be, as if promiscuity and drug use are just accepted to be de rigueur for teens today. There’s something to be said for bringing back the campy series of our youth.

So … I’m going to start this little project I’ve had in the back of my mind for ages, and, just for fun, do a thorough series recap of my beloved Girls of Canby Hall, seen through the eyes of an (ostensible) adult. 35 entries, one for each book. If I was not alone and any of you out there also read these books, share your memories with me! Dana, Faith, Shelley, Toby, Andy and Jane … we’re dragging you into the 2000s. See you back here soon for the recap of the one that started it all, book #1.

The Truth Behind “Anne”

In Books, Canada, Peanut on April 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I just finished a fascinating and enlightening book: Mary Henley Rubio’s Gift of Wings, a biography of L. M. Montgomery.  Now as any working parent can attest, “reading” consists of snatching two or three pages here and there while your adorable offspring is momentarily distracted by a bite of food or the daily arrival of the UPS truck, so the fact that I finished a 600-page book in a week speaks to its compelling nature. 

For anyone who is not familiar with her, L. M. Montgomery is perhaps best known for authoring Anne of Green Gables.  Growing up in Canada, where she’s a major source of national pride, I devoured every book she ever wrote and, like many people, lines from those books have stayed with me to this day.  She died in 1942, but a new book by her was released in 2009 (well, new-ish; most of it had been previously published in abbreviated form) and I immediately ordered and read that too.  How to capture the appeal of L. M. Montgomery in a few words?  Her characters are spirited, intelligent, and good, yes — perhaps too good, as she apparently developed a reputation for writing sentimental saccharine prose during her day — but I think what most resonated with me was her innate understanding of human nature and emotions, and how funny her books could be when you don’t tend to think of early-1900s writing as being funny at all.  She expertly poked fun at the ridiculous things people regularly do and say, and always cut down supposedly mature and haughty characters to size.

My favourite LMM book is one of my favourite books of all time: The Blue Castle.  It describes in agonizing detail the misery of a 29-year-old “spinster,” Valancy Stirling, who is snubbed and beaten down by her overbearing mother and judgmental, opinionated family, who look down on her because she is nothing special: not married, not pretty, not smart, not rich.  A twist of fate gives Valancy a reason to break free, and she eventually goes on to find all the things she never had.  The skewering of Valancy’s proud family’s hypocrisy is still funny to me today, twenty years after I first read it: her wealthy uncle saying over and over, “Dippy.  She’s gone clean dippy, I say” and each time thinking vaguely that someone has said something like that before, and her grim mother going about the household chores because “Meals must be made ready though a son dies and porches must be repaired even if your only daughter is going out of her mind.”  Anne of Anne of Green Gables had her own source of humour in the inevitable “scrapes” she got into, and one of the things that made her story memorable to me was her relationship with Gilbert, a love story that was understated and, if not exactly believable, somehow still rang true.

Based on all these ultimately happy books, I’m still kind of reeling from the revelations in this biography.  L. M. Montgomery was miserable for much of her life!  Because of the Anne-Gilbert love story, and the love stories that were in nearly all her novels, I was shocked when I read years ago that LMM had written in her journal of her wedding day, “I sat at that gay bridal feast, in my white veil and orange blossoms, beside the man I had married — and I was as unhappy as I had ever been in my life.”  The biography goes into much more detail about this.  LMM’s husband Ewan had severe depression exacerbated by dangerous medications that were the only treatment at the time.  Additionally, her oldest son could probably be characterized as a psychopath (her younger son, a physician, actually diagnosed him as such.)  He was a thief, an adulterer, a liar, and worse.  And she herself had mood swings that might have been considered bipolar disorder today.  This is illuminating, given that a particular passage that hit home for me when I was ten years old and reading Anne of Green Gables was when Anne tells Marilla, her surrogate mother, that she feels emotions so keenly that happiness takes her soaring to the highest of heights and sadness plunges her into the depths of despair.  Marilla says dryly that she would much rather spend her life walking with her feet on solid ground, and Anne says earnestly that no, the lows are made worth it by the dazzling highs.  At the time, I could relate to this because I (especially compared to my dignified family) have always felt emotions rather deeply myself.  But now, knowing that LMM was in need of some serious modern antipsychotics, it colours how I look at all of her work.  LMM’s family revealed in 2009 that she had actually committed suicide (something so shameful in those days that the doctors covered it up so the stigma wouldn’t end her son’s medical career) and reading this, one might see why. 

And here are some other interesting facts for my fellow LMM-lovers out there.  Though she was so adept at depicting human nature and its contradictions in her writing, she apparently didn’t always see them in herself.  In Jane of Lantern Hill, a grandmother wreaks havoc by interfering with her grown daughter’s love life.  In LMM’s life, she did exactly that to her sons.  (I am, of course, going on the assumption that Rubio’s biography is accurate.)  Plus, the male love interest in The Blue Castle, Barney Snaith, may actually have been based on a secret crush the married LMM had on someone named Edwin Smith (about which her church and community gossipped) — because in her final version of the manuscript, there is one typo where “Snaith” is written as “Smith.”  And very embarrassingly, that typo was published.  The most disturbing thing I read in the entire book, however, was that the character of Leslie Moore, a haunted and tragic woman trapped in a nightmarish marriage in Anne’s House of Dreams, was based on L. M. Montgomery herself — and Leslie Moore’s initials are, of course, “L. M.”  If you have ever read Anne’s House of Dreams and you remember Leslie Moore, you’ll understand why this is rather unsettling.

Enthralling stuff, I tell you, for someone who read every word of her novels, and now I’m inspired to find all her books and reread them.  This biography was based on LMM’s private journals, which she recopied because she intended them to be published after her death (she was world-famous for the last 30 years of her life.)  The reliability of her journals is questionable because she herself altered them to make people and events seem as she wanted them to seem, and that’s such an interesting idea too … offering your private journals to the world because you know that whatever you write, whether it’s the full truth or not, will become the last word.  No one else in her life was famous enough to be publishing their journals, so only her side would be told.  Oh, these revelations about my favourite childhood authors.  First Enid Blyton, then LMM … who’s next, Dr. Seuss?

So anyway … read L. M. Montgomery!

I’ll close with a snapshot of Peanut and her best buddy, “A,” doing what they love to do best: stand at the front door and monitor the neighbourhood.  There is little funnier than two 19-month-olds harassing passersby.  A middle-aged man jogged by the other day and P and A inexplicably screeched “Baby!” after him.  And heaven help any creature of the canine persuasion who has the misfortune to happen by.  P and A love dogs, and they show their love by barking at them.  Peanut has also developed a new habit of, when throwing a fit, stopping mid-wail and saying reproachfully to us, “Peanut CRYING,” just to make sure her cruel, heartless parents have noticed.  She has also, however, started saying out of nowhere, “Peanut happy!” and giggling, which just melts our cruel and heartless hearts.

Happy 2011! (And An Illusion, Dashed)

In Books, Medicine, Peanut on January 3, 2011 at 10:17 pm

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and an awesome New Year’s!  We got to spend time with both our families and had a white Christmas for the first time in years, which was beautiful.  We took advantage of the white stuff by taking the Peanut sledding for the first time, which she greeted with … suspicion, mixed with reserved distaste.  It is becoming increasingly clear that she is dead-set on letting us know that she is a city girl.  At the age of 12 months I took her to the park on a beautiful summer day, thinking she’d enjoy the feel of the soft grass on her little bare feet, and I wish I’d had my camcorder to record the dainty wrinkling of her nose and prissy lifting of each foot, one at a time, to carefully shake off any invisible contamination.  Needless to say, a Little House on the Prairie-esque skipping down the grassy hill with girlish abandon did not ensue.

"Seriously, couldn't we do a spa or something instead?"

Nonetheless, we had a wonderful Christmas season.  Every New Year’s Eve since we’ve been married, somehow either Tolkien or I have been on call.  This year it was his turn, so my parents joined me and Peanut for a low-key NYE celebration, which we enjoyed, and now it is back to real life and goodbye to another holiday season.  January is really kind of a crappy month (my apologies to any January birthday-babies out there) — why does it always have to follow the glittering party that is December?

Anyway, I have already achieved my sole 2011 resolution, which was to finish Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles.  (It helps that I only had 35 pages to go by Dec. 31, and also that I made no other resolutions.  I set the bar high.)  I’ve been reading this book for three and a half years, and not because I’m in the slow reading group.  (I reads real good.)  I was so bored by the slow pace of the first half of the book that I dropped it and read a million others in between.  But that boredom was finally outweighed by the annoyance of seeing it taunting me smugly from my nighttable day after day, and so I vowed not to allow myself to pick up another book until I finished that one.  Which vow I then proceeded to follow with two months of just not reading at all.  Finally I gave myself a mental disciplinary thrashing and forced myself to open it again.  Turned out to be quite an interesting book, in the end, but so very depressing.  The point of all this, though, is that recently whenever I finish a book I enjoyed I’ve been entering it into http://bookseer.com, a site that spits out recommendations for other books based on the one you type in.  The recommendations it has given for other books have been fairly spot-on.  For Tess?  It recommends “nothing.”  Not sure what to make of that.  

All this recent book obsession is clearly the sign of a long-starved reading-lover who was ensconced in her medical bubble for years and has only just been emancipated.  I have friends who managed to read fiction during med school, but I was not one of them.  After cramming microbiology and pharmacology for 13 hours a day, every day, I just couldn’t take the eyestrain of more reading, even for pleasure.  And the thing is that even after the first two years of med school, when you finally leave the classroom and start on the hospital wards, you still have so much studying to do for your clinical rotations.  Then in residency you’re reading like crazy about your patients and their conditions.  And studying for lecture exams.  And then when you’re done residency you’re cramming like crazy for your written and oral board exams.  My oral board exam was in May of 2010 and it was my last exam for 10 years.  10 years, people!  Do you know what it is to tell a physician that they don’t have an exam for 10 years?  Probably something like being told you’ve won the lottery and don’t need to worry about money for the rest of your life, but not quite believing it, so you keep secretly squirreling away dollar bills on the side while publicly splurging on a Lamborghini.  I still study several days a week.  Only now I also have a stack of novels on that nightstand.

Christmas gifts received, and now next up on the reading list.

Which gets me thinking about all the books I read and loved as a child, especially since I’m hoping that Peanut might one day be literate and could enjoy some of the same ones.  One of the authors whose books I really devoured was Enid Blyton.  I was so into her British boarding school novels that I frequently used the word “fortnight” in regular 10-year-old conversation, and it took me several of them (fortnights, that is) to realize how preposterous I sounded.  So anyway, thinking of her stories, I Googled her yesterday, and would you believe, it turns out this author of sweet innocent children’s tales was apparently an adulterous, abusive, malicious, lying crazy person

This information has so shaken my belief system that this entire post was a rambling way of getting to that single point.  Enid Blyton, an insane witch.  Why don’t you just tell me there’s no Santa Claus too?