by George Saunders
In my Intro to Sociology class, we do one-page critiques of assigned books and articles. The first one for the semester was a Hugh Nibley article about the importance of having both zeal and knowledge. My critique earned me only 6 out of 10 points, and I was devastated by one of the comments made by a TA: “Please go to the writing lab for help with your writing,” it said. Quite honestly I feel like I have more-than-decent writing, especially when I see the work of some of my peers. But I tried extremely hard and managed to get a 9 on the critique for Gappers!
Gappers are strange orange-ish prickly sponge-ish shaped creatures that live in the sea next to the small town of Frip, where there are 3 houses. The owners of each house also own goats. Gappers love goats. Every day they climb up from the sea, over the cliff, into the yards, and onto the goats, where they latch themselves and emit a continual high-pitch shriek of pleasure. One day the gappers decide that instead of spreading out and traveling to all 3 yards, they will just latch onto the goats in the yard nearest the sea. (The owners of the houses make their children remove the gappers from the goats twice every day and toss them back into the sea.) The problem is that the neighbors refuse to help the girl who now has three times as many gappers on her goats. And the book is about what happens in their little town as a result.
Very amusing story, lots of messages to pick up, and fun pictures. Definitely recommended.
does anyone still read this? I don’t really…but regardless, I am engaged!! for whoever stumbles upon this post let me tell you how it happened:
jarom and I were at his brother’s place friday evening. his brother and sister-in-law went to the store to pick up some things for dinner. while they were gone jarom started secretly training me to choose his right hand if he held them both out, the pick-a-hand game, where something is hidden in one hand and you have to guess which one. the left hand was a peck and the right hand was a really nice smooch. anyway, we left his brother’s house around 9:20p to go meet some friends to see a movie.
as I went to unlock the car door I turned and jarom was standing there, he held his hands out again, I picked the right one…it was a ring inside this time, and he got down on one knee and said, “mika, will you marry me?” I was so stunned that I literally stood with my mouth gaping open. I was almost to the point of asking him to repeat the question when I decided maybe this was really happening, and I managed to say something eloquent like “oh…my gosh…YES…” apparently I took so long to answer that jarom was afraid I would say no.
the ring is perfect; he searched far and wide for many weeks to find it. we think may 5th in the sacramento temple is when we’ll get married. and no, we didn’t realize at first that it’s cinco de mayo, but maybe we’ll wear sombreros at the reception…
so I am delightedly, ecstatically, euphorically happy. I’m glad that he kept all discussions about us getting married very vague, and gave me no good hints, because the suprise was incredible. absolutely incredible. I’m still having trouble believing that this has really happened, but there’s a ring on my finger and a smile I can’t wipe off my face. HUZZAH! I’m getting married!!
On (Not) Getting By in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich
While I have some contentions with this book, as a whole I think it’s a good look into both the numbers and the realities of the working class in America. Ehrenreich is a journalist who went “undercover” as a woman trying to make ends meet by working minimum-wage jobs in three different cities. She wonders, at the beginning, what “tricks” the working class has learned to make the numbers add up, and admits at the end that there are no tricks. The numbers don’t add up without working two full-time jobs and living in squalor.
I think Ehrenreich gives excellent descriptions of what daily life might be like for the working poor, but she intentionally keeps herself floating safely above any actual experiences of poverty. For instance, she is very firm about the fact that networks are a key to surviving as a low-wage earner; extended families and groups of friends help each other out. However, in the name of journalism, Ehrenreich rushes home from work every day to compile notes about her impressions, and never attempts to rely on others for support.
But aside from that, it is worth reading, and I recommend that anyone interested in understanding and eradicating poverty read it.