Things I’m thankful for today:
- A great rapports with some of our upper administrative leadership at work. That’s not always something I’ve enjoyed, to be not only respected and appreciated for what I do, but for them to actually enjoy my company and share a good laugh with me every time they see me.
- Along those same lines, I have also enjoyed great rapports with one of our administrative assistants this week, who has been immensely helpful on a project that has cost me some sleep over the past year.
- My proudest moment: Levi, our six-year-old red-headed wonder, wrote a delightful short story that earned 2nd place in the PBS Kids Writer’s Contest. This is the third consecutive year a Nelson boy has placed in the contest. (Asher won first place in his division for the past two years.) And it’s Levi’s first foray into the short form. I’m so proud of him.
The following was originally posted to Goodreads on April 14, 2016.
I’ve been on a Dickens kick for a while, and while it takes a bit (as with any classic that precedes modern times) to get into the swing of his language, once you’re there, you stay there, and you’re free to get swept along, your emotions manipulated as the author wills it. Some people take pleasure in hating Dickens, perhaps because they find it cool to be cynical and feel they are somehow earning points for going against popular opinion about him, both then and now. They feel that if you allow yourself to be moved by Dickens, you somehow concede a bit of your own intellectualism and respectability. Well, I call BS. If you’re moved, you’re moved, and if you’re not, examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith (to borrow a popular phrase that’s used when by a hellfire-and-brimstone Christians when you criticize their approach). I love Dickens, and I am moved. I also consider myself a respectable enough intellectual who’s not easily swayed to flights of melodrama. At the same time, I like a good cry when it comes, and Dickens delivers. He moves us to tears because he’s moved himself to tears, and in this book’s final passages, he has no qualms, no reticence, no shame. He falls in love with his heroes and heroines, and he’s more moved by their tragedies as well as by their righteous justice when they’ve finally earned it than any self-respecting author should admit. That’s why I love him. We can examine his prose and look at archetypes and all that, but I think what’s most important about Dickens’ writing is his conscientiousness. He’s vexed by the lack of justice for the poor, widows, and orphans of society. He envisions a world where they finally get their due, where villains are, to an equal extent, given their justice. This is my third Dickens in a row. I really enjoyed Pickwick Papers, but it was rather more humor, wit, and satire than melodrama. I can come along with that for a time, but by the end I was ready to be moved again. Oliver Twist took up the charge nicely. And then by the end of this work, I was putty in his hands. I haven’t spoken much of the plot here, but sometimes I’m inclined just to talk about a book’s effect on me rather than give a book report full of facts, dates, and events from the book so the teacher knows I read it. Plus, it’s been a week, and since I read prolifically, names and places have already escaped me. Flunk me if you must, but I’ll say this, and spoiler warning ahead of time: The death of little Nell brought me to tears right where I sat, in my office on my lunch break at work, while eating a bag of cheddar and sour cream Ruffles. That’s a first to me, not only to be moved to actual, physical tears by a work of classic literature, but to be in such an unlikely disposition when it happened. That speaks volumes about his timeless impact. I’m looking forward to going deeper into the monumental Bleak House.