Seven things (that are now six)

I.

Tuesday night, standing on the porch and about to walk in the front door, I heard the distinct sound of hooves. I looked up and, to my delight, there was a horse-drawn carriage moving up the street. Two fawn-colored draft horses pulling a glossy white Cinderella-style carriage; two drivers, a man and a woman, both wearing black top hats. I watched from the porch until they passed out of my sight, but I went inside very happy and amused.

II.

These days I am dreaming a lot about the house we are hoping to find when we move in May. I have vivid dreams about specific floor plans. In one dream, the house has dingy pink carpets throughout. In the next dream, the house has forty rooms but looks the size of a double-wide on the outside. In another, the house has a perfect farm-style porcelain sink but no cabinets of any kind. In another, the house has immaculate interior design but is covered in mildewy siding on the outside, surrounded by a chain-link fence in a scary neighborhood. The only consistent feature among the multiple dream houses is that they all have gorgeous, lush lawns. I hope this is the part that will come true.

III.

We become very affectionate with each other while we’re waiting in the grocery checkout line. I’m not sure what inspires this. We joke and laugh and kiss each other’s cheeks and try to guess how much we are going to spend.

IV.

I am not very skilled with Roman numerals. I remember one of our friend’s annoying little brothers bragging that he could do all of his math problems in Roman numerals if he wanted to. I told him, “That’s stupid. Why would you ever need to do that?” He was crestfallen. I felt a little guilty, looking at his wounded face. He was so proud of his obscure talent.

V.

Shaun and Ann-Marie are coming to visit this weekend!

VI.

I have a beautiful drive to and from work. Coming down the hill every evening, I have a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge mountains. This is something to be daily grateful for.

Why I didn’t like “The Help”

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

I just finished reading The Help. So many people read it and raved about it. I was always a little suspicious, but when my boss offered me her copy this past week, I thought I might as well give it a try. I admit that I liked it more than I thought I was going to. There were moments of insight and emotionally riveting sections. The maids especially tug at your heartstrings. Overall, however, I wouldn’t recommend The Help to anyone.

I am tired of reading books where white people are acting as the saviors for black people.

I am tired of reading books in which characters are either 100 percent good or 100 percent evil; people are not that plainly defined in real life. With the exception of a few minor characters, everyone in this book is either a hero or a villain. That gets very tiresome very quickly and it makes for two-dimensional, predictable characters. (Not to mention that Stockett never addresses the fact as to why her hero is close friends with the top villain. Somehow this is rational.)

I am tired of white people appropriating the voices of black people and using bad grammar and slang to do it. This is 2011, Kathryn Stockett. Your chance to be Harriet Beecher Stowe has long passed. There is, of course, the question as to whether the young, rich, white Stockett can tell these stories. She can tell them–she is from Jackson, after all–but should she? I lean toward the fact that she shouldn’t. This is an ethical and theoretical dilemma that could lead to all sorts of philosophical, critical tumbleweeds, but I’ll just say that, for me, I mistrusted Stockett’s representation because of who she was. This, perhaps, is not fair. But what, really, does 42-year-old Stockett know about being a black maid in Mississippi a full decade before she was even born? Her presumption sets a hurdle that is nearly too high for me to climb.

It is a breezy read, but it is not a new or meaningful novel. (And don’t even get me started on that lazy ending.) At the end of the day, The Help is just another book about Southern white people patting themselves on their backs for what they did and didn’t do for black people. It’s high time we stopped repeating variations of that fable.