Caffeinated Soap

Caffeinated Soap?

Blind French Canadian student denied entry to English classes at university because his seeing-eye dog is strictly francophone?

There are a lot of things that baffle me, like the recent $60 million dollar wedding or the Dubai hotel that costs $15,000 a night.

I guess Saturday morning is as good a time as any to think about stuff like this. In between doing my weekly weekend writing splurge, watching the Royal Tannenbaums sometime later today, cleaning my flat at some indefinite point. I admit I spend a lot of time collecting seemingly pointless strange articles and facts, and marveling at the ridiculousness of our world, but it’s my entertainment from constant thinking about things like a comprehensive system of education that truly educates and empowers children.

Or the role of parents in nurturing their children, something I don’t think people take quite seriously enough.

Or how the entire world is basically organized in every way possible to keep Africa poor by instantly engulfing the extraordinary wealth it produces and return a piddly percentage of that wealth back to the starving looted continent, disguising it as charity and aid.

Or how do you effect social change so that these poisonous catch-22 cycles of economic colonialism are reversed? Micro-finance? Women’s literacy? Youth Empowerment?

Or how do you use your talent if it is writing to make any kind of difference? I mean, aren’t qualified scientists and economists or social innovators really the people that make a difference? And if so, how do I become one of them? Or how do I have the courage to make the difference I can by staying true to who I am?

Sometimes I need to think about my friend’s walk in Uganda, when a kid popped up with a piece of paper and told him to hold still for his photo. And then proceeded to make an origami camera, complete with shutter. Or I need to plunge and lose myself in a thick book of perfect fiction, like the Poisonwood Bible, something I can squeeze for instant meaning or wallow in literary beauty. I need a perfect film, once in a while, like my M & M’s five minute home video about their trip to Venice set to hauntingly beautiful opera music. Gliding gondolas in rainy grey waters, an exquisite short story about voyage, where you bob along canals as the basilicas cloud over, and your eyes rest on beauty and the story of finding yourself.

So that’s why I’m all over the place, and more specifically, that’s why I’m here so often. Sometimes I just need to talk, because if I keep it all in, I feel like I’m going nuts.

And I love to hear from you, so keep commenting. It makes me feel less crazy for talking to myself… talking to myself.


7 thoughts on “Caffeinated Soap

  1. Dear Violetta,
    Has anyone commented that you and Mara could pass for sisters? I was looking at your pictures from Massada and had to look twice to see that that was you in the hat, not Mara. And she is my daughter! Maybe it was the camera and the light and the hat, or that I haven’t seen her in too long.

    Random comments:
    Raising children. Would I have done things differently? Probably, but as a parent, one does what one can where one is with what one has at the time. Yes, I do wish I had truly empowered my children. I think the choices one makes in both finding a mate and then in raising the offspring of that mating are dictated more by hormones and habit than thought. Even when you think about things, what one does in situ is often not what one thought one would do. And God gives the responsibility of raising children to people not yet fully formed. Of course, if being fully formed were a prerequisite for raising children, Adam and Eve would have been the end of the line. At 52 I still don’t feel fully formed or even qualified to raise children. But I suppose that is as it is meant to be. Baha’u’ullah talks about an ever advancing cilivization, but not about the pace.

    Next: Africa, poverty, injustice and your role in the world. As you can see, I am given to pronouncements. Not to worry, I don’t actually expect people to take them seriously. If you can get a kernel from it, good. If it is all chaff, well, let it fall to the threshing room floor. You can write, well and movingly. You have a cause (probably several). How can you use your talent and skill to their best advantage? Don’t dismiss the power of the written word. Think of the impact a book like Cry The Beloved Country had on the world’s attitude to aparitied. Yes, I believe that you can make a difference and stay true to who you are. I tend to be a bit fierce (and a bad speller, too) and one of the things I find most delightful about your writing is your ability to expose the humor of situations in the world.

    Poisonwood Bible: This is the second time you have mentioned it. I have read several other Barbara Kingsolvers. Now I will read this one.

    The M&M; video: I am so glad that you are as taken with it as I. I found it to be so delightful. I showed it to friends who gave me the ‘she’s being the proud mother’ look. I was beginning to believe them. You have restored my faith in my assessment. Thank you for seeing that beauty and sharing it with me.

    I love your story of Matthew and the oragami camera. It reminds me of Mendon and the butterfly. He was out jogging one day in Gambia and as he was running he caught a butterfly in his hand. When a Gambian (no one he knew) came walking in the other direction, he released the butterfly into the man’s face. He said that the man’s face lit with the most delighted smile. He said that smile made the whole trip to Gambia worthwhile.

    Keep writing and I will keep reading.
    Madame Maman

  2. Working in a day care center I think about raising children an awful lot! I will also be a teacher within a year and that has some pretty great impacts too. My current philosophy is this…a) the most important thing is that children learn to communicate in healthy and productive manner ( their thoughts, questions, emotions, desires) and b) that children are encouraged to follow their quriosoities and questions..essentially to discover.
    But…being that example is SO hard. Working with children is really a blessing. Every day I tell kids how to interact and how to respond to anger/insults/excitement in ‘appropriate’ ways. It might sound overwhelming, but it’s actually a really cool way of discovering your own beliefs and actually following through on them. That may sound selfish, but I think everyone involved benefits. I know not everyone thinks of working with kids in this way, but I think that all future parents should spend time working in a daycare center. First so that if and when your kids go to one you know what you’re getting into, but mostly to form your own ideas about raising kids and getting practice at being a parents.


  3. oh, read The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Best book I’ve read all year. I promise you that is is an amazing work of fiction, as you may hgave read my rave review on my blog:) It’s amazing. I also enjoyed jitterbug perfume. A nice and brief emotional journey is the pharmacists mate. a funny/heartbraking true story about education is educating esme: diary of a teachers first year.

  4. Hey, Violetta!

    You really are the spittin’ image of Mara. I did a double take when I saw the photos, too, especially because you were so creative in naming them that I thought maybe you had taken some of Mara and thrown them in for confusion’s sake.

    The serious topics you raise are excellent ones for discussion; I am inclined to suggest that Africa conspires with its oppressors to remain oppressed. Countries such as Botswana are the exceptions that prove the rule; Botswana is so well run that the government’s credit rating is better than that of Japan’s government.

  5. Dear V,
    I keep visiting your site in the vain hope that you are back. I feel so sad, like you are mad at me, which I can’t quite imagine, or that I have hurt your feelings. Please come back and join our fun again. I like having you as part of the family.
    Madame Maman
    And Nae, even though you post anonymously, it would be polite to sign you comments.
    And if that wasn’t Nae, well, you know who you are the same applies to you!

  6. Why does it somehow hurt my feelings that my family doesn’t seem to recognize me? Is it because I know how much V and I don’t really look alike? Has it been so long since I’ve seen my family that they’re FORGETTING what I look like?…

    And why is it that all of a sudden Blogger doesn’t remember me? I can’t remember my password. Dur.


  7. Mara,
    If it helps you any, I didn’t at any point think the photos of V could be you. She could have been a relative…but not you. Maybe I’m so aware of what you look like cause everyone thinks we are twins or eachother!

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