1. I was going to write a blog post about a conversation I had with my son and Mister Litlove about why men don’t read as much as women. But the conversation actually took place almost a fortnight ago now and I can’t recall much about it. My son protested that reading was an individual decision and that there must be men who read as much as I did. Mister Litlove said he felt it was about different inclinations when it came to relaxing activities, whether people preferred to be passive or active, and/or, interactive, whether they needed to be sociable or not. Mister Litlove also said he wouldn’t read so much if he weren’t surrounded by so many books, and my son said that it was the stories in video games that were the reason he enjoyed playing them. But both would rather watch television or surf the net in their downtime. I remember saying something like, oh dear oh dear, the bloggers are not going to like that it’s too biological, all about men preferring activities that are visual and don’t require emotional intelligence. And they both shrugged with that exact same blank expression that indicated they did not feel responsible for the reactions of unknown others. It’s astonishing to me that I once wrote a PhD on the constructionist view of gender identity whilst marrying and producing alpha males.
2. I’ve had the nicest run of induction sessions with the new first-year students that I have had in doing this job so far (it’s my third year). The students were all lively and ready to contribute and we had a lot of fun with the activities I’d set them. I think I’m getting better at group activities as well – I never had to do them before and at first they were a mystery. It takes me such a long time to learn and adapt. I had a year to find out what to do, a year to experiment and finally a year where things start to come clear. I’m also teaching French literature again, just to one student who for various reasons particularly wanted to work with me. He wants to do all unusual and obscure French writers, so I’m looking forward to that.
3. I’m particularly interested in this group of people, who are exploring the possibilities inherent in literature as a way for people to connect better with their lives; reading stories as a sort of immediate and easy therapy, in other words. There’s a big new nursing home that has recently been built in town, and I have to look at it as I stop at some traffic lights on my way into work. Every time I go past, I see all these very elderly people in their armchairs at the picture windows and wonder whether they want anyone to read to them, or swap library books for them. Then a friend sent me a link to this article in which one of the things discussed is reading to Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers – apparently connecting with a poem or a story they have loved in the past can do them the world of good. I’d very much like to do this, and at the same time, I’m scared. I’m not very good with physical suffering, and I’m not sure how well my porous nature would manage in such close proximity to death. So I keep thinking about it, and wanting to do it and then deciding to wait a little longer. I might feel braver when the spring rolls round again. I’m sure I’ll get there in the end.
4. Knowing I had a busy week ahead, I decided to pick up a really easy book to read, a chick-litty sort of book, which I thought would be relaxing. Instead, I’m finding it predictable and not very impressive to read. Is it just me or is chick-lit becoming anodyne again? For a while back there it was edgy and funny and sharp. This novel, by Lauren Weisberger of The Devil Wears Prada fame, has nothing new to say and no interesting way of saying the old things. I imagine that her name and connection to a successful film were the prime reasons why this book was accepted, which is why I dread the prospect of publishers submitting primarily to economic forces in their decision- making. This book should have been binned and some other new, exciting talent put in its place.
5. Mister Litlove begins his fine woodworking course tomorrow after a real struggle with the university’s administration department that seemed even more disorganized and chaotic than your average university admin department. We have our fingers crossed that the course, after all this, turns out to be okay. If you have a spare moment tomorrow, send him some good vibes, will you? I firmly believe that when bloggers unite the power of their minds, just about anything is possible.