Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review of "The Heretic's Daughter" by Kathleen Kent

Sometimes I'm a real woos when it comes to reading subject matter that makes me angry, upset or uncomfortable.  I'm not as bad as Joey on Friends since I don't have to put the book in the freezer but I do have to put it down and walk away.  This book made me angry at people and their willingness to believe anything to get the answer they want.  It was set before and during the Salem Witch Trials and is told from the point of view of Sarah, daughter to Martha who is on trial for witchcraft.  You get to see the family about a year before the trials start and get glimpses as to why the mother is hauled in on suspicion of being a witch.  And here's a shocker: Martha was a strong woman.  She wouldn't let men bully her and she didn't kowtow to others standards of behavior.

Several times I had to put this book down and walk away because the rampant stupidity exhibited by this culture and it's fear based ruling system made me angry.  When studying colonial literature in college I remember reading Cotton Mathers and thinking that his teachings were nothing but a way to control the people in his church.  He used their fear of hell and damnation as an effective means to passively coerce them into acting how he wanted them to act.  He's mentioned several times in the book where the church leadership looks to him for guidance.  The book is based on facts surrounding the life of the author's ancestor so it's not hard to believe that Mathers wouldn't be involved.  We know he was - dirty bastard. Sorry, I digress. 

Many elements of this story made me angry, not just Mathers' inclusion.  Number one on my list is the fact that a bunch of grown men were duped by a group of ignorant teenage girls.  They also understood the power of using other people's fears to their advantage and used it to accuse anybody they had a grudge against of witchcraft.  Kent describes a scene in the courtroom when Martha is before the judges and the accusers were screaming because she was sending her spirit out of her body to torment them at that very moment.  Looking back 400 years with the perspective we have now it's hard to believe an entire community would put stock into what a small group of teenage girls said when it was sending their loved ones to jail and the gallows.

Second is the treatment of children.  As heartbreaking as it is to hear about these atrocities being carried out against adults it was even more gut wrenching to think that people had no qualms about imprisoning small children.  I realize that children these days are more revered by far than their counter parts so many centuries ago but it's still hard to imagine that people had such little compassion that there wasn't any hesitation to throw them in a filthy jail in hopes of getting a confession against their parents. 

For all the scenarios that made me angry, however, it really was a great read.  Any book that incites such a strong emotional reaction usually gets my thumbs up; the writer was able to effectively used their language to get me where they wanted.  It's ironic, however, that the same methods were used by the Puritans in their pulpits to start the witch trials in the first place.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thoughts On Failed Nap Attempt and Itchy Hands

Today, after giving my kitchen a thorough cleaning, I decided that I deserved a nap.  I was a little tired and felt that a good siesta on my nice comfy couch would do me some good.  So I popped in a CSI dvd for some white noise, grabbed a pillow and my blanket and curled up on the couch.  A little while later my little girl kitty decides to come cuddle with me. 

Excellent, I thought.  I always take a good nap while she's curled up with me.

Boy was I wrong.  I couldn't sleep!  I tried so hard and I even got really comfortable but I just couldn't fall asleep.  Maybe it was the fact I put in a CSI dvd instead of a Disney dvd.  I've seen every CSI episode just like I've seen all my Disney movies at least 5 times so they're usually good for me to have on in the background for naps.  Maybe it was because I was wearing socks.  Who knows.  Now I just feel gyped and I don't like it.

On top of that I've had this itch in between my fingers for almost two weeks now that I can't get rid of and it's driving me nuts! It's in between all of them, on both hands.  There's no rash, no bug bites, I haven't taken any medication that would cause a reaction so I don't know what the hell my problem is.  It's under my skin and I just want to rip into my fingers and end it.  Grr...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reading and Reminiscing

I recently finished reading the true love saga of The Pioneer Woman and her husband Marlboro Man.  She did a series of blog posts (titled Black Heels to Tractor Wheels) recounting how she met her husband and the decisions she had to face in order to maintain a relationship with him.  She is an excellent writer and has a way of capturing the essence and emotion of the moment that sometimes had me panting and wanting to run off to Oklahoma to find me a cowboy of my very own  . . . but I digress.  The point of this is that it got me thinking of my relationship with David and if I would have done anything different.  But before I begin I have to stipulate that I can't really compare my life to hers for several reasons.
  1. David and I are from similar enough backgrounds that going from my life to his wasn't that big of a stretch.  I wasn't forced to give up bookstores (hallelujah), easy access to coffee shops or a good place to get my nails done. 
  2. I never had the urge to move as far away from home as she did. While I like to fantasize that I could have made a go of it in Boston, Seattle or New York I just never had the gumption to make it reality.  Two hours away was plenty enough for me.  Close enough that I could go home on the weekends and far enough away that I didn't have parents breathing down my neck and watching my every move.
  3. And this one is the biggie - from what I've experienced in my own life, her husband is truly a diamond in the rough.  While I love my husband and wouldn't trade him for anything, Marlboro Man seems to be the living epitome of a cowboy gentleman.  I'm sure, just like every man, he has his flaws and should by no means be idolized but it's comforting to know that men like him actually do exist outside of the publishing world.
Now the whole point of this little spiel is to reminisce on my feelings and thoughts, not just moon over her good fortune and wish it were mine. 

She made a comment in one of the chapters (I'm sorry I can't remember where exactly) about how she thought that a couple should be able to feel like they were the only ones in a crowded room.  I remember feeling like that with David.  We were at a coffee shop in downtown Boise, The Flying M, and they have these spectacular couches to sit on.  It was towards the end of our date and we had gone to have coffee and just relax and be together.  At some point the place was empty enough that I had room on the couch to lay my head down in his lap and close my eyes for a minute.  I was still in school at the time and it had been a long week.  I wasn't ready to fall asleep but I just wanted to chill for a bit.  We sat like that for quite a while.  I don't remember talking, just him running his fingers through my hair and sipping his Earl Grey tea.  (Even though I hate tea I will forever associate the smell of Earl Grey tea with David.)  I don't know how long we sat there but as soon as I sat up so we could leave it was like someone had turned the volume back on.  I didn't realize it at the time but it was as if someone put the whole restaurant on mute and all I could focus on was me and David.  I don't know if he felt this way but to me it was kind of surreal.  I'd been encased in my own little world with him and hadn't even realized what was happening.

This particular memory has always stuck with me.  It reminds me of the beginning of a relationship when everything is new and exciting and you just get lost.  I never got hiney tingles or gave up my plans for David but that doesn't mean I love him any less.  He sees me for me, tells me he likes to kiss me and says I'm cute when I'm pouting.  There's even some weird geek math equation to prove his love (he says) that involves cake and TV but it's too complicated for me to explain. 

So, in order to give my unemployed mind some food for thought, I'm going to try and regularly post good memories of my husband, friends and family.  It will give me something good to think about and help me remember the reasons they are in my life. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Awesome Song

I heard this song at the end of an episode of Castle and I absolutely loved it.  It's kind of sad but he's got a great voice.  I'm irritated with the Zune store because they do not have it, iTunes does but they don't have an On-The-Go plan so I'd have to buy the album :-( I'll content myself with this for now.  Hope you enjoy.