Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Everything you want to do or be you already have and are. --I Heart Huckabees

I have an appointment with a dermatologist next Tuesday. I called four offices before I found someone who wasn't scheduling appointments in September (?!). I'm focusing on studying for the MCAT and so I'm not freaking out overmuch. It's not as if worrying about it will do anything to change what's going on in my body (or if it does have an effect--thoughts have wings, as they say--it would probably be a negative one). So today I studied, and ran, and baked. I wish I could upload the pictures I took of the bread--a hefty challah and a golden-brown cinnamon-raisin loaf. I've been working quite a bit from a book called "The Best of Shaker Cooking," and the bread recipes are very good--not surprising, considering Shaker communities are and always have been cut off from the outside world as much as possible. A lot like the Amish, except the Shakers don't have sex. How do they get more Shakers? They recruit, I guess. They used to adopt young orphans, who of course came into the communities happily; who wouldn't want a place to sleep and a few warm meals a day? But then they hit twelve or thirteen, and started feeling those "very special feelings" and often ran away. Food and shelter is one thing; obligatory celibacy is quite another.
I remember being eleven and being depressed and in love simultaneously, both for the first time; I had a hopeless, hopeless crush on an older woman (and by older I mean 30) who taught my Sunday school class (looking back, I want to shout to my younger self, "Oh for God's sake!"). Anyway, I crushed on her HARD. Doodling her name, staring into space during school while imagining that she might adopt me (like Miss Honey did on the very last page of Roald Dahl's Matilda--remember?). I didn't know at the time that what I was feeling was a crush, and neither did anyone else; thus, for a long time I thought the "very special feelings" we learned about in sixth grade health class were an amalgam of frustrated passion and despair. Not too far off, as middle-school desire goes.
Speaking of childhood discoveries, I've been going through my old books preparatory to being out of my parents' house for good. And I've discovered that I still have a lot of the books I loved in elementary and middle school, and that some of them are still insightful and interesting (and with more eloquent writing, it pains me to say, than a Janet Evanovich or Dan Brown novel).
Here are some of them:

1. The Little Prince, by Antoine de St Exupery. No explanation necessary. If you haven't read it, do so immediately. I've read it in German and French, too, and it's awesome in any language.
2. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume. The book that has taught generations of girls what their mothers were afraid to mention--periods. And reading it still makes me feel like I'm nine years old, wishin and hopin and thinkin and prayin. Little did I know that I'd be an early bloomer and spend the entirety of sixth grade as the tallest student at Red Bridge Elementary.
3. Deenie, also by Judy Blume. Stress-induced ulcer? Check. Scoliosis? Check. Masturbation? Check. Reading about a girl with whom I could completely identify? Triple check. Judy Blume is a goddess. If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, she would come pretty close to Jesus (right at the Gloria Steinem/ Einstein/ Buddha/ Sylvia Plath level).
4. Matilda, by Roald Dahl. Every reasonably intelligent child who has read this book has at some point tried to move things with his or her eyes. Several of my friends have 'fessed up to this. So will I: I stared at a silver ring for half an hour trying to levitate it. Nothing. Maybe I should've tried a glass.
5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, also by Roald Dahl Pre-creepy Johnny Depp, pre-advertising blitz, pre-candy bar tie ins, there was only the story of little Charlie Bucket and his dirt-poor family. I was always looking for that golden ticket, that way out. I think I eventually found it. I think everyone can.

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