The Sky Isn’t Visible from Here – Felicia Sullivan

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I can imagine, that if you worked on Wall St. or in high tech, in some high profile, well-paid job, and your friends summered in the Hamptons and settled in Connecticut suburbs, and you found yourself losing friends, losing your grip, tormented by demons that you couldn’t even name, because to you they seemed like nothing compared to the demons you dealt with growing up, I can imagine that like Felicia Sullivan, the author of The Sky Isn’t Visible from Here: Scenes from a Life, that you too would be compelled to write, to somehow make sense of it all.

I sat down to read this book one night and couldn’t put it down until I finished it at 2 in the morning. No child should have to endure what Felicia grew up with in an environment of neglect, sexual abuse, and drug addiction. We all want our children to be protected, to be surrounded by love and stability. What Felicia survived, was anything but that.

This is a hard book to read, emotionally. Those of us in relatively safe worlds know that people and children exist this way in our own cities, somewhere we know this, in the back of our minds. But most people with lives like this never make it out, and if they do, rarely do they have the skill of writing or gift of narrative to tell such a story to the wider world. That Felicia got herself out, put herself through school, built herself a life, is a testament to her intelligence and will. That she battles with her own pull toward addictive, self-destructive behavior is no surprise, given the broken craziness of her childhood.

I came away from this book sad for all of the children who are growing up this way, who will never get out, sad for Felicia’s mother who probably believes she did the best job parenting she could given that her own mother would lock her in a bathroom for days at a time, and in awe of Felicia for the courage it has taken, and still takes, to lead her life.

Links:
FeliciaSullivan.com

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach

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Macabre. Gross. Funny, in a twisted, fascinating way. What does happen to our bodies once we are dead and gone? Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, eventually and in most cases, unless you’ve donated your body to science and then the process is either sped up, as it is dipped in a tub of lye, or delayed indefinitely through plastination. In Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, author Mary Roach takes us on a wild romp through history and science, describing in unsettling detail how cadavers have been used, and are used, in medical research. Although the book is weirdly entertaining, given the subject matter, Roach is always respectful of the bodies, and the people who have donated them.

“The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan. But here are forty of them, one per pan, resting face-up on what looks to be a small pet-food bowl. The heads are for plastic surgeons, two per head, to practice on. I’m observing a facial anatomy and face-lift refresher course, sponsored by a southern university medical center and led by a half-dozen of America’s most sought-after-face-lifters. The heads have been put in roasting pans – which are of the disposable aluminum variety – for the same reason that chickens are put in roasting pans: to catch the drippings. Surgery, even surgery upon the dead, is a tidy, orderly affair.”

In the chapter entitled “Crimes of Anatomy”, Roach takes us back before the time where there was a legal process in place to donate one’s body to science. In the early 1800s teachers of anatomy had to resort to other means of acquiring bodies on which to practice. Body snatching from recently dug graves was the more usual method, and there was a vigorous trade in the practice. The problem was that nobody wanted to be dissected. The common view of life after death was of the whole body making its way to heaven. Dissection was something only done to the bodies of executed mass murderers.

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Feist Counting to 4 on Sesame Street

Love this song from the Apple ad. Now Feist takes it to Sesame Street. (link)

One, two, three, four monsters walking cross the floor
I love counting, counting to the number four
Are you counting? Counting with me
To one less than five and one more than three

Oh oh oh, counting to four
Oh oh oh, let’s count some more

One, two, three, four penguins that were by the door
I love counting, counting to the number four
I see four here, I see four there
Favorite number, nothing can compare

Oh oh oh, counting to four
Oh oh oh, let’s count some more

One, two, three, four chickens just back from the shore
I love counting, counting to the number four

Oh oh oh, counting to four
Oh oh oh, let’s count some more

One, two, three, four chickens just back from the shore
One, two, three, four penguins that were by the door
One, two, three, four monsters walking cross the floor

Ba ba ba da, ba ba ba ba da da
Ba ba ba da, ba ba ba ba da da

Whoah, counting to four
Oh oh, counting to four
Counting to four, counting to four

JK Rowling Gives Commencement Speech at Harvard


J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling gave the commencement speech at Harvard this year. Harvard Magazine lists the full text of the speech as well as a Quicktime video. Rowling focuses on two themes – failure and imagination. On failure,

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

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