Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Girl Who Grew Up

I’m sad today. We had a chance to elect our first woman President, and we didn’t do it. And to think that we elected this particular man instead is horrifying. As the president-elect himself has said so frequently during his campaign, “It’s a disaster.”

So I’m feeling shivery and shocked and have been pondering the plethora of “Girl” titles of books and films and how we once shed the word “girl” for the word “woman.” This is part backlash, part marketing, and part reclaiming a word, I know. But it’s been on my mind a lot in recent weeks, months, even years.

Here’s a partial list of what’s out there:

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
The Girl Who Played With Fire
The Girl Who Wrote in Silk
The Girl Who Lied
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
The Girl Who Fell to Earth
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
The Girl Who Ate Death
The Girl Who Bore the Flame Ring
The Girl Who Fought Napoleon
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
The Girl Who Got Out of Bed
The Girl Who is Worth 100 Cows
The Girl Who Knew Too Much
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
The Girl Who Had No Enemies
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
The Girl Who Heard Demons
The Girl Who Could Fly
The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo
The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die
The Girl Who Chased the Moon
The Girl Who Wouldn’t Brush Her Hair
The Girl Who Owned a City
The Girl Who Stayed
The Girl Who Cried Murder
The Girl Who Escaped ISIS
The Girl Who Stole the Apple
The Girl Who Came Home
The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts
The Girl Who Looked Under Rocks
The Girl Who Slept with God
The Girl Who Came Back
The Girl Who Fell
The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness
The Girl in the Ice
The Girl in the Spider’s Web
The Girl in the Red Coat
The Girl in a Swing
The Girl in the Picture
The Girl in 6E
The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Mountain
The Girl on the Cliff
The Girl on the Half Shell
The Girl on the Boat
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo
The Girl With Seven Names
The Girl With All the Gifts

Enough already. 

I’m a girl who grew up. 

And voted for Hillary Clinton. 

In a pantsuit.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Edge of Forever

So, I was just telling you about reading Time Travel, by James Gleick, which mentioned Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions, by Edwin Abbott, published in 1884. Abbott was dealing with the fourth dimension, and our difficulty getting our heads around that new idea, by imagining a two-dimensional land where the inhabitants are trying to get their minds around the possibility of a third dimension. (Plus, it satirizes Victorian culture.) Abbott's narrator is a square named A. Square.

Flatland has come back to us in various ways, including via Futurama and Big Bang Theory on tv, and also in an episode of Carl Sagan's television series, Cosmos, "The Edge of Forever" episode. But it came back to me almost immediately--that is, in the next book I am reading, which is This One is Mine, by Maria Semple, which I had to read after reading Today Will Be Different (which I had to read after reading Where'd You Go, Bernadette? Yes, I am, evidently, addicted to reading.) Little did I know that all three of Semple's novels sort of connect, in a Random Coinciday kind of way. (But not so random, as she is a bestselling author, who also used to write for Mad About You and Arrested Development--favorite shows in our house!--and she knows what she's doing!)

Anyhoo, imagine my delight when, on page 70 of my paperback edition of This One is Mine, "An image came to Sally, something she remembered from childhood. It was from the Carl Sagan series Cosmos, something called Flatland. Flatland was this two-dimensional world where everything was flat, even the Flatlanders who lived there. They could only perceive left and right, front and back, but no above or below. One day, a potato flew over from another dimension--really, Carl Sagan had said it was a potato--and this potato looked down and said, 'Hello.'"

OK, Sally goes on to perceive love in an altogether new way, thanks to Flatland, and I went on to seek out Flatland and Cosmos from the library! Oddly, I could only find the audiobook of Flatland, so that's a fun and unusual experience. When the narrator says, "In Figure 1, etc." I know there must be illustrations, but I can rather easily imagine them. I have not come yet to the potato, nor to "The Edge of Forever," but I have seen a still from the series in which Carl Sagan is holding an apple over a two-dimensional gameboard-like depiction of what might be Flatland, so...a pomme if not a pomme de terre. (Oh, my origami brain!) If I ever get there, to the Edge of Forever, and back, I'll let you know. But, for now, my destination is not even Flatland but Cleveland, via televisonland, and the World Series. May the best team win!