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The Devil

The Devil

“Why do you call your husband that?” It’s usually the folks that don’t know him doing the asking.

People in the know make him identity bracelets with “The Devil” spelled out in beads.

He’s also been lovingly refered to as “Squidward” by a self-identified “Patrick” who dubbed me “Spongebob.” If, like me, you need a reference point for these accusations, I give you two:

The Devil can be grumpy for sure. Naturally, he’s a bit of a Grinch about Christmas.  This year in a rare moment when he wasn’t complaining about how ridiculous the holiday is, and how stupid all the shoppers are clogging up the traffic home, he asked for “kill shirts.”  Kill shirts, as in the shirts TV serial killer, Dexter, wears. It was a sincere request.  Not that he’s going to kill anything; the Devil is a vegetarian.

He’s the kind of guy who listens to Heavy Metal, Death Metal, and who watches the Vegan Black Metal Chef.

His lounge-wear reveals his devilishness clearly:

EL-D

He often conceals his dark nature behind various disguises.  When we make public appearances (because, you know, we’re rockstars), it’s customary to see each other on the way out the door and wonder aloud who exactly the other is supposed to be in regard to the costuming, then to promptly answer our own posed question.  It goes like this:

I’ll say, “Who are you going as tonight, a literature professor?”

He’ll say, “What are you supposed to be, a woodland fairy?”

We tend to create the most unlikely pairings: country gentleman and baglady, serial killer and Sporty Spice.

We are always so different, even when we’re exactly the same.  When I morph into Lilith he suddenly becomes Michael the Archangel.

In our relationship’s default settings, I lean towards a chirpy sort of joy while he does all the moody brooding.  We remind me a lot of these two:

But somehow underlying it all is just this…

Tulsa October 026

This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain.  It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love.  A sense of oneness with sun and stone. A thrill of gratitude to whom it may concern-to the contrapuntal genius of human fate or to tender ghosts humoring a lucky mortal.

–Vladimir Nabokov

The last few weeks I have passed many a quiet hour in the company of a brilliant and fascinating dead man.

While I sat in a chair swinging and sipping a cup of steaming tea, he shared detailed memories of his happy childhood.  Near the warm glow of a fire, he taught me new words (cacology, fop, vicissitudes, incunabula, and impecunious) and secret things about butterflies. I was saddened by his tales of war and exile, even as he kept these in the periphery of a vividly lived life. He showed me sunsets in Berlin, gardens in St. Petersburg, and seashores along the western coast of France.  Last night as I turned the last page of Nabokov’s memoir, it felt a lot like losing a friend.  What a beautiful mind.

Speak, Memory; An Autobiography Revisited is the literary equivalent of a truffle.  I savored it in small bites, never wanting it to end.

 

 

Title: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Synopsis:  Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, gives women career advice. She also discusses the problems women face in getting leadership roles and how to overcome them.

Why I Read It: Someone at a convention raved about the book during a talk.

Full Disclosure: My opinions may be biased by my dislike of her employer. I don’t do Facebook; the whole phenomenon seems at best a waste of mental resources, and at worst a dismaying invasion of privacy.  All that said, I read the book because Sandberg is an accomplished woman writing on a topic, women in leadership, which is interesting and relevant being that I’m a woman and all.

Highlights: It was a quick, easy, well-organized read. Every chapter is concentrated into its one sentence essence (so tidy!!), which made the content memorable. There were a couple of these that stood out:

  •  Don’t Leave before You Leave, in which she discusses the problem of being focused on some future event rather than on your present job, and
  •  It’s a Jungle Gym Not a Ladder, in which she discusses the trajectory of a career and how it’s ok to move laterally and all around instead of constantly climbing up, up, up.  I appreciate the playfulness of this metaphor.

Lowlights: I had a hard time relating to Sandberg. First off, I am drawn to work that is academic and not corporate. My fields are already dominated by women. I’ve been mentored by women, promoted by women.  Likewise, I teach women and promote them.  As a result, sometimes the issues she wrote about seemed remote.  Secondly, her writing style was safe and overly-processed….a little too polished.

Recommended to: 1.) Men – every last one of you should read it.  2.) Working women with children. 3.) Ambitious women just beginning their careers.


If You Liked This Book You Might Also Like: Leadership by Rudy Giuliani, which I reviewed (very briefly) here, and which I found equally as helpful and more compelling.

Best Quote:

“It’s not about biology, but about consciousness”

–Gloria Steinem

If you want to learn more here’s a Ted Talk she gave on the topic.

You never know what fascinating sights you’ll see when roadtrippin’ through Arkansas. Both the backroads and interstate hold an array of surprises. From I-40 you’ll spy roadkill, rice paddies, and religious signs reminding you to beat the children with a stick.

I wasn’t kidding….

In Central Arkansas you can hop off the interstate, do a little wine tasting and stock up on your favorite vintage at the wineries.

Chateau Aux Arc (in the Ozarks…get it?)

Wiederkehr Village (population of 42) has more grapes than residents.

At one point in our journey, an emergency coffee attack required a pitstop to a Love’s Travel Shop. As The Devil was pulling in to a parking spot right beside a fella fiddling with stuff under the hood of his SUV, a 96% naked lady jumped out of the backseat of the fella’s vehicle.  I was so astounded by the scene that lay before me that I forgot the camera entirely. You’ll have to settle for the picture I paint in words. The 96% naked lady was wearing a little bitty bikini with a tiny see-through crocheted skirt.  Her backside was emblazoned with a tattoo of a bull’s head. Its horns rose menacingly out the top of her bikini bottoms. And, she looked ANGRY! She said a buncha words I didn’t understand partly due to the southern twang that shaped them, partly due to the shock of seeing an angry 96% naked lady unexpectedly jump out of a vehicle, and partly due to the music that was blaring from the speakers of their opened door:  “We’re from the country and we like it that way.”

It was all so very much to process.

The man under the hood looked up long enough to glance at her, register us and our agape expressions, and chuckle to himself before returning back to his tinkering.  The 96% naked lady walked this way and then that, continuing to make a fuss over something before finally settling back into the backseat and closing the door.

By that time, The Devil had returned and we were on our way.

The backroads and small towns of Arkansas are also great fun. There are interesting places to eat.  For example, in Springdale there’s a giant waffle sign in the sky that announces a Waffle Hut.  If that doesn’t suit your taste you can try the Mexican-Middle Eastern Restaurant.

Around one bend in the road we spied a natural swimming hole.

Several fireworks stands were set up along the road.  One stand had a sign that read “Fireworks. Help Christians Serve.” Another sign said, well, see for yourself…

…because nothing says ‘Christianity’ like blowing stuff up?

Good times.   I will really miss this state when it’s time to dismantle this particular life.

For more sights and scenes from my Arkansas travels, see:

Remedy: A Roadtrip through Arkansas

A Weekend in  Little Rock

A Stroll Through Little Rock

Scenes from the Ozark Mountains

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