Monday, June 14, 2004

Tidbits from Nairobi Primary:

Houses: The students were divided into 4 houses (yes, just like Hogwarts) and my sisters and I were in "Impala". This meant that when we had swimming meets 1/4 of the stands would cheer "Im-Pa-La, Im-Pa-La!" as I swam my flailing crawl the length of the pool. One other house was Simba but I don't remember the other two. Maybe Tembo? As far as I was aware there wasn't any stigma or particular pride attached to any house other than that my house was best. We didn't wear special colours but we sat in separate areas of the stands. Like Hogwarts, any personal triumphs or disciplinary slips counted for the whole house.

Food: For several years we ate in the dining hall with the boarding students for lunch. We did not get afternoon snack for which we were grateful as it was comprised of bread with shortening spread on it and weak tea. We ate family style around large rectangular wooden tables. Each table had a faculty member at the head and an older student at the foot. One girl from each table was assigned to pick up food and clear plates. We all had to eat one serving of everything served. The food, as I remember it was filling but featured oversalted, overcooked vegetables and mushy meat. We drank milk and water. We were allowed to decline dessert which was often custard or puddings of different sorts. The worst, in my mind, was tapioca pudding made with giant tapiocas that did look like albino frog eggs about to hatch into see-through tadpoles. One time the dessert was jello, a big treat, which came to the table in a large bowl dotted with whipped cream. Several students wrinkled their noses against the whipped cream so I volunteered to scrape their cream onto my jello. I should have know better; it was mayonnaise not whipped cream. Cold mayo on jello! Disgusting! The dining room was always loud and steamy.

Start of School: Every morning we started school with Assembly. We gathered in the courtyard and stood with our classes in orderly rows. We were led in prayer and song from a nifty little songbook/prayerbook (picture several hundred earnest British and Kenyan accented voices singing "All Things Bright and Beautiful"), we sand the National Anthem in English and Swahili, the flag was raised and there were announcements. I don't think I ever actually heard an announcement just that Peanuts' adult blahblahblah. When dismissed we marched in line behind our teachers to our classrooms. I can still sing the first verse of the Kenyan National Anthem in both languages.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Love and marriage? LOL! You thought I forgot love. No, I just ran out of time. Love alone is not enough for marriage. Yes, love overcomes many blockages in a good marriage but love by itself is not reason to enter into a lifetime contract of marriage...even if you know 25% of marriages end in divorce (It's probably much higher than that but I'm not looking for statistical accuracy but instead the general odds).

I've loved many people in my life, some as deeply as the man I married. And the love didn't always fade although sometimes it changed with time and growth. I still love those men and women but they were not for me to marry. It wasn't until several of the things I've talked about came together.

So, 'love and marriage' go together but so do 'love and non-marriage' and 'respect and marriage'.
What is a good reason for getting married?

Are there bad reasons for getting married? The first answer that jumps to my mind is force. Nobody should get married because they are being forced to marry. We think that in America people aren't forced to marry anymore but that is not true. There are still parents who arrange and enforce marriages as contracts between families or because of sexual activity or pregnancy. After force is necessity. Some people marry because they need protection or to escape an abusive parental household or for monetary support. Necessity is not, IMO, a good reason for marriage...understandable sometimes but not good. And there are still women sold into marriage (which to my mind is more of a sexual slavery than a marriage but I suppose that legally the contrat is marriage).

Is sex a good reason to marry? Well, I like sex and it is certainly a good part of my marriage but it isn't the driving cause. If a man or woman will not have sex with a partner until they are married, I do not think that is a good reason to marry. That is certainly a fine personal standard if you choose not to have sex outside of marriage but wanting to have sex with someone is not sufficient reason to marry them.

Social stricture? Nope, not a good reason in my mind. That the community cares whether or not a man or woman is married is not strong. Will that community support the couple, care about their welfare as a married pair, or will the piece of paper satisfy their requirements? Will the community work to keep strong partnerships or assume that the blessing of the state is enough. What motivation is there for a couple to stay married or to keep working if the partnership was not their idea in the first place?

What does work? Well wanting to get married is important. A couple that wants to bond in public partnership gets a checkmark. This does not, of course, have any negative marking for people who prefer not to get married. Common general goals get a checkmark. We both want to settle down or travel the world, we have generally similar views on the accumulation of wealth and goods and children. A willingness to give and take to strengthen the partnership gets a checkmark. Not that I will erase my selfhood to let someone else's take primary position but that I will see that my singular desires are only part of the whole. Mutual respect for ideas and beliefs gets a checkmark. Knowing that we will not always see things exactly the same way and that our backgrounds and structures are different but that different is not bad and that there is valid reasoning there that we can listen to and think about for ourselves. We may not have the same or any religion but a mutual respect for how we came to those places and the ability to refrain from "conversion" eases that difference. Seeing each person as fluid gets a checkmark. I am not now the same person I was 14 years ago nor is my partner. I hope that in the future we will both continue to grow as whole people. Are we williong to trust the growth and not try to keep each other the same? Are we willing to see growth as positive and to acknowledge that our growth may not be parralel in terms of time or paths. Can we see our paths separate and come back together without ruiing everything? I suppose this means that we do not rest all the responsibility for the relationship on just one thing/way. Not just sexual activity or similar hobbies or even political stances.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Swim team is for rich people. The pool fees are reasonable at $360 per family for the summer because I know we will be there, swimming and playing, 4-5 days a week. Having a cool shady place with a pool is worth that much money. Then there are team fees of $35 per child, competition suits at $37 a piece, practice suits $17 each (I sigh for the days I could buy them $2 thrift store suits), goggles $13 each, caps $3 each.

360+35+35+35+37+37+37+17+17+17+13+13+13+3+3= $672

Perhaps there are sliding scale fees I'm not aware of. Maybe I can find someone to pass the swimsuits down and on.

We've just sort of stumbled into this. Oldest m'toto was aiming for swim team 2 years ago but an emergency appendectomy put her out for the season. This year all three wanted to get involved. It is a healthy exercise. They have practice for an hour 4 nights a week and optional hour of practice during the days (with more personal instruction).

You may have noticed the booklist to the right and the proliferation of Dick Francis books recently. I enjoy Dick Francis' books. He writes mysteries that generally are about characters in the British racing system. The books are very easy to read; most of them can be read in 2-3 hours. I have all his books in either hard or softback and I reread them all every year usually on lazy summer days at the pool or winter snow days when I can read 2 in an afternoon.

Monday is Payday and I have spending money left from last time! Today I took $100 and went to the bookstore. I came out with $3.69. It was terribly easy and I could have spent triple that amount if I had the money. I rationalize that the DVD is for the family and that my children will read some of the books and that I will send "Dead to the World" to a friend as soon as I'm done with it. Yeah, that makes me feel better.

My booty:

Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold If only I had known it was available as an ebook! (sigh)
Tthe house of the scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Queen's Own Fool by Jane Yolen
Tithe by Holly Black
Zazoo by Richard Mosher

and last but not least even if it isn't a book...

Tokyo Godfathers

Thursday, June 10, 2004

School: Standard 3 (This is my understanding of what happened; I was in 3rd grade)

1969 was a difficult year for non-African Kenyans and non-citizen residents. In Uganda, Idi Amin was deporting non-Ugandans and his definition was very strict. Indians, from India, who had been born in Uganda had their citizenship stripped and were forced to leave the country on short notice. First or second generation, their living was built at the expense of Ugandans. Any property unsold and which could not be carried out became property of the State. Businessmen sold their family stores and businesses at rock bottom prices so that they would have some chance of starting anew in another country. Some people were escorted to the border in trucks and had only what they could carry with them. People took advantage of the State led attitude that Uganda should be for Ugandans and that non-native Ugandans were taking jobs and keeping Ugandans subservient and took the opportunity to get as much as possible for as little in return. There were people who with dignity bought property at decent prices or else promised to hold property until it could be sold for a reasonable return. These helpful friends then sent what they could to help the deportees.

Some deportees were forced out of the country before receiving a visa for another country. Stripped on their citizenship and without permission to enter another country they wobbled from port to airport. Sometimes they would be allowed to stay for a week or two before being sent out again. Several countries set strict limitations on the number of immigrants they would allow from Uganda. Some friends of my father, men in their 50's, knew nothing but shopkeeping in Uganda; there was no place for them in India and with their trail of family members they tried to think of a niche for themselves or resigned themselves to starting over in a totally new country and business.

The eyes of many in Kenya focused on their Indian neighbours, coworkers, shopkeepers. People started pointing fingers and placing economic blame.

My teacher in Standard 3 was expelled from the country with her mother and father. We heard from her several times...Holland, Spain, England but we never found out where or when she found a place to try again to be a citizen.

And me? Born in Kenya, I was told over and over that I was not a true Kenyan. One day, I was assured, I would be forced from the country. No matter how often my sisters explained that I was being baited or how many times I was lectured on "turning the other cheek" I could not stop from answering back. I AM a true Kenyan! I was born here! I go to school! I am learning Swahili just like my classmates! There is no difference between me and my friends in the Post Office flats. We children are all the same when we dance girba and walk on the house walls. I have walked up Longanot and swum at Nakuru. My parents are just like yours: we may not eat many sweets, we must wash our hands and sit quietly, we are swatted and sent to eat out of sight of those with good table manners. I am a Kenyan.
I was a Kenyan but Kenya didn't want me. I am more loyal to her than she to me.
This week's list of the military dead:

Cpl. Bum R. Lee, 21, of Sunnyvale, Calif
Lance Cpl. Todd J. Bolding, 23, of Manvel, Texas
Sgt. Melvin Y. Mora, 27, of Columbia, Mo
1st Lt. Erik. S. McCrae, 25, of Portland, Ore.
Sgt. Justin L. Eyerly, 23, of Salem, Ore.
Spc. Justin W. Linden, 22, of Portland, Ore.
Sgt. Frank T. Carvill, 51, of Carlstadt, N.J.
Spc. Christopher M. Duffy, 26, of Brick, N.J.
Sgt. Humberto F. Timoteo, 25, of Newark, N.J
Spc. Ryan E. Doltz, 26, of Mine Hill, N.J
Pfc. Melissa J. Hobart, 22, of Ladson, S.C
Sgt. Jamie A. Gray, 29, of Montpelier, Vt
Lance Cpl. Jeremy L. Bohlman, 21, of Sioux Falls, S.D
Cpl. David M. Fraise, 24, of New Orleans, La
Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan, 27, of Bristow, Va

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Here's how I found out that a place I worked had ridiculous gender based salary guidelines. A man who graduated from the same school I did, a year after I did, with the same degree (snarkily I add that I had higher grades and more experience), who took the job I had held the year before as I moved into a different position, who was having his first year in the workforce, who had the same responsibilities that I had, was making significantly more than I. I was shocked! I was barely making enough to pay my rent and had taken a second job to pay for clothes and groceries and he was making almost 50% more in his first year than I was in my second. He was also shocked.

I asked a few other people in the organization if my experience mirrored their own (maybe the admin didn't like me or thought I wasn't doing a good job although my assessments wer top notch). It turned out that men were making significantly more than women across the board in this job regardless of years on the job, educational level, or competancy.

Several women with more time on the job than I brought this situation up with the admin and were told that those men had families to support. However, some of the men were single and several of the women were widows raising families.

At a staff meeting, the women were lectured that they were hired for their wages and the wages of others were not their concern. My concern was that their salary policy was not made known to us so that we could know what we were getting into.

What I had gotten myself into turned out to be a whole other can of worms. But that is how I found out that I was valued less because I was a woman.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

School Thoughts: Standard 2 (2nd Grade)

I have little to say about this year. My teacher was Miss Davies a petite redhaired Welsh woman with a terrible temper. At least I call it temper but it was truely violence. If we blotted our books or made mistakes, Miss Davies would slap the back of our heads so that our foreheads bounced against the desktops. I had bruises and lumps on my forehead the whole year. I developed a fear of Mathematics and cheated or claimed stomach sickness to work around learning my times tables. The walk to the infirmary, sitting in line, and drinking the tablespoon of medicine covered all of the allotted Math time for a day. My parents did nothing to stop the abuse; they weren't sure what to do. My parents went to India for a month and left us with another family who were shocked by the bruises, which were obviously happening at school. The other family asked if my parents knew and then decided to follow my parents' example.

I was very glad when that year ended.

Nairobi Primary Uniforms Posted by Hello

LOL! I remember blue cardigans but I see they were red.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

As part of my job, I access the Department of Defense once a week and make a list of military dead who have been announced since the last week.

Today's list:

Pfc. Daniel P. Unger, 19, of Exeter, Calif
Lance Cpl. Kyle W. Codner, 19, of Wood River, Neb.
Cpl. Matthew C. Henderson, 25, of Lincoln, Neb.
Pfc. Richard H. Rosas, 21, of Saint Louis, Mich.
Pfc. James P. Lambert, 23, of New Orleans, La
Lance Cpl. Benjamin R. Gonzalez, 23, of Los Angeles, Calif
Capt. Daniel W. Eggers, 28, of Cape Coral, Fla
Sgt. 1st Class Sgt. Robert J. Mogensen, 26, of Leesville, La
Pfc. Joseph A. Jeffries, 21, of Beaverton, Ore
Spc. Michael J. Wiesemann, 20, of North Judson, Ind
Petty Officer 1st Class Brian J. Ouellette, 37, of Needham, Mass
Pfc. Cody S. Calavan, 19, of Lake Stevens, Wash
Lance Cpl. Rafael Reynosasuarez, 28, of Santa Ana, Calif
Cpl. Dominique J. Nicolas, 25, of Maricopa, Ariz.
Pfc. Nicholaus E. Zimmer, 20, of Columbus, Ohio
Sgt. Aaron C. Elandt, 23, of Lowell, Mich
Pvt. Bradli N. Coleman, 19, of Ford City, Pa.,
Spc. Charles E. Odums II, 22, of Sandusky, Ohio
1st Lt. Kenneth Michael Ballard, 26, of Mountain View, Calif
Lance Cpl. Dustin L. Sides, 22, of Yakima, Wash
Pfc. Markus J. Johnson, 20, of Springfield, Mass
Capt. Robert C. Scheetz Jr., 31, of Dothan, Ala

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Italicize=started but not finished
Underline=not yet started but own

The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
1984, George Orwell
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
Middlemarch, George Eliot

A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
Persuasion, Jane Austen
Dune, Frank Herbert
Emma, Jane Austen
Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
Watership Down, Richard Adams
The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
Animal Farm, George Orwell
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck

The Stand, Stephen King
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
The BFG, Roald Dahl

Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
Mort, Terry Pratchett
The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
The Magus, John Fowles
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
Lord Of The Flies, William Golding

Perfume, Patrick Susskind
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
Matilda, Roald Dahl
Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding

The Secret History, Donna Tartt
The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
Ulysses, James Joyce
Bleak House, Charles Dickens

Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
The Twits, Roald Dahl
I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
Holes, Louis Sachar
Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
Magician, Raymond E Feist
On The Road, Jack Kerouac
The Godfather, Mario Puzo
The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Katherine, Anya Seton
Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
The Beach, Alex Garland
Dracula, Bram Stoker
Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/2, Sue Townsend
The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
Shogun, James Clavell
The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham

Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett

Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
Possession, A. S. Byatt
The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl

East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
The Color Purple, Alice Walker

Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
It, Stephen King
James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
The Green Mile, Stephen King
Papillon, Henri Charriere
Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett

Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
Atonement, Ian McEwan

Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Kim, Rudyard Kipling
Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
Moby Dick, Herman Melville (and I never will finish it)
River God, Wilbur Smith
Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
The World According To Garp, John Irving
Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore

Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
The Witches, Roald Dahl
Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery

The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
Silas Marner, George Eliot
American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Gross-mith
Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
Heidi, Johanna Spyri

Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
The Truth, Terry Pratchett
The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans

A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
The Once And Future King, T. H. White
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien

The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
The Great Hunt, Robert Jordan
The Dragon Reborn, Robert Jordan
Fires of Heaven, Robert Jordan
Lord of Chaos, Robert Jordan

Winter's Heart, Robert Jordan
A Crown of Swords, Robert Jordan
Crossroads of Twilight, Robert Jordan
A Path of Daggers, Robert Jordan
As Nature Made Him, John Colapinto
Microserfs, Douglas Coupland
The Married Man, Edmund White
Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin
The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault
Cry to Heaven, Anne Rice
Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, John Boswell
Equus, Peter Shaffer
The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
Letters To A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn
The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
Anthem, Ayn Rand
The Bridge To Terabithia, Katherine Paterson

Tartuffe, Moliere
The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
The Crucible, Arthur Miller
The Trial, Franz Kafka
Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles
Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther
A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen
Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen
Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
A Raisin In The Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
ALIVE!, Piers Paul Read

Grapefruit, Yoko Ono
Trickster Makes This World, Lewis Hyde
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
Summerland, Michael Chabon
A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
Candide, Voltaire
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Roald Dahl
Ringworld, Larry Niven
The King Must Die, Mary Renault
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle

The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
The House Of The Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson
Chocolate Fever, Robert Kimmel Smith
Xanth: The Quest for Magic, Piers Anthony

The Lost Princess of Oz, L. Frank Baum
Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon

Lost In A Good Book, Jasper Fforde
Well Of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde
Life Of Pi, Yann Martel
The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
A Yellow Rraft In Blue Water, Michael Dorris
Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
Griffin & Sabine, Nick Bantock
Witch of Black Bird Pond, Joyce Friedland
Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien
Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt

The Cay, Theodore Taylor
From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Jester (hated it!)
The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
The Kitchen God's Wife, Amy Tan
The Bone Setter's Daughter, Amy Tan

Relic, Duglas Preston & Lincolon Child
Wicked, Gregory Maguire
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry

The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum
Haunted, Judith St. George
Singularity, William Sleator
A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
Different Seasons, Stephen King
Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
About a Boy, Nick Hornby
The Bookman's Wake, John Dunning
The Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns
Illusions, Richard Bach
Magic's Pawn, Mercedes Lackey
Magic's Promise, Mercedes Lackey
Magic's Price, Mercedes Lackey
The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Gary Zukav
Spirits of Flux and Anchor, Jack L. Chalker
Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Brenda Love
Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison.
The Cider House Rules, John Irving
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland
The Lion's Game, Nelson Demille
The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars, Stephen Brust
Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh

Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk
Camber of Culdi, Kathryn Kurtz
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
War and Rememberance, Herman Wouk
The Art of War, Sun Tzu
The Giver, Lois Lowry
The Telling, Ursula Le Guin
Xenogenesis (or Lilith's Brood), Octavia Butler (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago)
A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold
The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
The Aeneid, Publius Vergilius Maro (Vergil)

Hanta Yo, Ruth Beebe Hill
The Princess Bride, S. Morganstern (or William Goldman)
Beowulf, Anonymous

The Sparrow, Maria Doria Russell
Deerskin, Robin McKinley
Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
Passage, Connie Willis
Otherland, Tad Williams
Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay
Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore
The mysterious disappearance of Leon, I mean Noel, Ellen Raskin
Summer Sisters, Judy Blume
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo

The Island on Bird Street, Uri Orlev
Midnight in the Dollhouse, Marjorie Filley Stover
The Miracle Worker, William Gibson
The Genesis Code, John Case
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevensen
Paradise Lost, John Milton
Phantom, Susan Kay
The Mummy or Ramses the Damned, Anne Rice
Anno Dracula, Kim Newman
The Dresden Files: Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
Tokyo Suckerpunch, Issac Adamson
The Winter of Magic's Return, Pamela Service
The Oddkins, Dean R. Koontz
My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
The Last Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
At Swim, Two Boys, Jaime O'Neill
Othello, by William Shakespeare
The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas

The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats
Sati, Christopher Pike
The Inferno, Dante

The Apology, Plato
The Small Rain, Madeline L'Engle
The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Richard E Cytowick
5 Novels, Daniel Pinkwater
The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Juliet Marillier

Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
Our Town, Thorton Wilder
Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King
The Interpreter, Suzanne Glass
The Moor's Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie
The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
A Passage to India, E.M. Forster
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
Pages for You, Sylvia Brownrigg
The Changeover, Margaret Mahy
Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
Angels and Demons, Dan Brown
Shosha, Isaac Bashevis Singer
Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
The Diving-bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
The Lunatic at Large by J. Storer Clouston
Time for bed by David Baddiel
Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Sewer, Gas, and Eletric by Matt Ruff
Jhereg by Steven Brust
So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
Perdido Street Station, China Mieville

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
Road-side Dog, Czeslaw Milosz
The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
Neuromancer, William Gibson
The Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
A Canticle for Liebowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr
The Mask of Apollo, Mary Renault
The Gunslinger, Stephen King
Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
Absalom, Absalom, William Faulkner
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

Dreamhouse, Alison Habens
Hyperion, by Dan Simmons
Prospero's Children, Jan Siegel
Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers
Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond
Enchantment, Orson Scott Card
Cetaganda, Lois McMaster Bujold
Beauty, Sheri S. Tepper

The Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector
The Patron Saint of Liars, Ann Patchett
Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson.
A wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le'Guin.
Assassin's Apprentice, Robin Hobb.

The Axis Trilogy, Sara Douglass
Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie
Sabriel, Garth Nix
Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
The Silence of the Lambs, Robert Harris
The Hot Zone, Richard Preston
Talking to High Monks in the Snow, by Lydia Minatoya
The Women of Brewster Place, by Gloria Naylor
Their Eyes were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Bird
The DaVinci Code, Dan Brown
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
Hannibal, Thomas Harris
Fires of the Faithful, Naomi Kritzer
Better Part of Valor, Tanya Huff
Rubicon, Tom Holland
The Hours, Michael Cunningham
A Home At the End of the World, Michel Cunningham
Roots, Alex Haley
A Season In Hell, Arthur Rimbaud
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
You Can't Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe

Battle Cry of Freedom, James McPherson
Wide Open, Nicola Barker
The End of Eternity, Asimov
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Foundation, Asimov
Traveling Mercies, Anne LaMott

Living In Truth, Vaclav Havel
Queen Bees and Wannabees by Wiseman
Dark Star by Paul Theroux
Roads of Heaven by Melissa Scott

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Thoughts on School II

I attended Nairobi Primary School; this is a picture of the building when it was the European Nairobi Boys School.Nairobi Primary School

My first teacher there, for Standard 1, was Ms. Edgar. Ms. Edgar was young and mod. She wore short tailored dresses, high heeled shoes, and her hair swept up and lacquered into a beehive. Oh, I thought her so glamorous! We dared to call her "Miss Eggs and Ham" behind our hands; the humour of 5 year olds is not deep. Miss Edgar's shining moment was during one of our swimming classes early that year. She was standing at edge of the shallow end of the pool watching us. I don't remember what kind of suits the boys wore but we girls wore black one piece suits with a white stripe down each side; if we passed proficiency tests the stripes were removed (one per test). Since this was an early class, we were all lined up, tallest to shortest, and then we paraded around the shallow end of the pool getting used to the water. I could already tread water and doggie paddle but some of my classmates had never been in a pool or large body of water before. Can you spot the potential disaster? Led by Anna Banana, the tallest girl in the class, we walked in ever expanding circles. The two shortest boys suddenly found themselves beyond their depth and panicked. Letting go of the conga line they grabbed at each other and went under. Everyone started screaming but none of us attempted a rescue; instead we all looked to Miss Edgar. Miss Edgar threw her purse to one side, kicked off her platform shoes, and jumped into the pool. She lifted a boy in each arm and helped them out of the water. We were amazed! She didn't even take off her watch before jumping in and it became ruined.

The building our class was in was like a cabin, there were three classrooms but each had an outside entrance. The older children had class in the "real" building; it had very high ceilings, marble floors, and sweeping stairs. I don't remember the bathrooms in that school at all. How strange. The grounds of the school were extensive; there were many playing fields, some woods with a stream, dormitories and a dining room, an infirmary, a swimming pool with bleachers and changing rooms, 3 or 4 sets of cabin classrooms, and the main building. My sisters and I were not boarding students but for several years we ate lunch in the dining room because our bag lunches were stolen on a daily basis. My mother felt very sad that there were children who were so hungry but she could not let us go without our midday meal. We wore red and white checked full skirted dresses with white collars, short sleeves, and white cuffs. Tan socks, brown or black buckled shoes, straw hats with navy ribbons, and navy blue cardigans completed the uniform.

I remember very little of the teaching...a hand writing lesson during which Miss Edgar intoned "Around, UP, and down" over and over, some work with rulers, swimming lessons and the school-wide competitions. My report cards note that I was a good reader and had original ideas but that my handwriting was terrible and my parents should enforce discipline to ensure I used my right hand for writing. Discipline at school was often physical. Small infractions like talking or fidgeting in line brought whacks on the palm of a hand with a ruler; repeated infractions brought a sprinkle of salt on my palm before the ruler. In my four years at Nairobi Primary I only once got into serious trouble, trouble that required intervention from up the administration scale. The problem, in my opinion, was Charles. Charles rode to school with us every morning and lived in the Post Office flats at the end of the block. Charles liked me; in particular, he liked to kiss me. It wasn't that I didn't like Charles but (like doomed relationships for hundreds of years) I did not like him "in that way". Charles took advantage of our reading groups. During reading group time half the class worked on paperwork while the other half sat and read with Miss Edgar. Miss Edgar liked to concentrate on the group at hand and asked the non-reading group to work quietly without disturbing her. While we were at our desks, Charles would kiss me, over and over. I told him not to, I told him to stop, I wiped his kisses off my cheeks, then I told the teacher and she told me to sit down and she told Charles to stop. This scenario was repeated over a week or two. Miss Edgar stopped intervening. I took my problem home and discussed it with my Mother who told me to "make" Charles stop; it seems she meant I should speak forcefully but at the time I thought she meant me to take action. The next day Charles kissed me and I hit him with my ruler; the ruler broke and Charles and I burst into tears. Miss Edgar stopped everything and made the class put their heads down while she penned a terse note. Charles and I were to take the note to the Headmaster's office. Nobody we knew had ever been sent to the Headmaster's office. Big boys, rowdy fighting big boys, were sometimes sent there. It was widely known that the Headmaster spanked with a stick or sometimes a leather belt. Charles and I slowly and silently (still crying) made our way through the long hallways and up the marble stairway. We sat on the great wooden bench outside the Headmaster's office, taking our places at the end of the line of older boys. Slowly the line moved up as the door would open and a hand would beckon in the next offender. Sometimes the student would come out with another note, would disappear and then reappear with his schoolbooks to wait for a ride home. Several times we heard the smacking sound of wood on flesh and then a red-faced boy would exit the office with his shoulders up and his head down. Finally it was our turn, Charles and I held hands shaking with fear. We shuffled into the office to face Miss Karimi. She took our note, read it to herself, looked at us, and said, "Yes, what have you to say for yourselves?" Charles and I started sobbing, we tried to explain, we each accepted all responsibility, we tried to say it was not important enough for her attention, we said Miss Edgar had misunderstood. I don't know how she kept from laughing. We were handed clean handkerchiefs and given a lecture on order in education. We promised to never misbehave again, ever, anywhere, for any reason. As far as I know neither of us was ever sent to the Headmaster again.