succumbing to peer pressure

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Travel Perfectionism

I should elaborate just a smidge on what I mean by my and Mom's perfectionist tendencies. What I mean is that Mom is already stressing over the possibility of getting back to the States post-trip, finding out about some awesome tourist thing we didn't do (say, taking a helicopter tour of Everest) and being so racked with regret as to essentially undo any enjoyment of the trip. I'm on board with the motivation that Nepal is incredibly far away, and if one is going to travel that far, one should get out and do some exploring. But I'm also on board with the idea that simply being there is going to be awesome and anything else is just icing. I tried to propose this perspective to Mom - it hadn't occurred to her, but I think over the next three months I might be able to bring her around to it.

I'm trying to be sympathetic - this trip means my Mom is leaving her Mom, who she moved up to assisted living near their house in WV a couple of years ago, for a rather extended period of time. Which stresses both of them out. Mom is an only child and views leaving Grandma as an extremely high price to pay, so her perspective on this trip is that she has to wring every possible experience out of it, to make the emotional cost worth it. I say that's a lot of pressure to put on one little trip.


I've been riding public transportation to and from work lately (90 minutes to two hours one way) so I've been reading. A lot.

I finished Without You, and while I respect what Rapp is trying to do here (the honest display of imperfections is pretty classic therapy behavior) it's the sort of book that only a huge, huge fan could love. It made me a little squirmy - I think I prefer knowing less about the people whose work I admire.

Next up was Open Veins of Latin America, by Eduardo Galeano. I picked up a free copy somewhat randomly, then found out that Chavez gave a copy to Obama. Neat! I have to confess, not won over by this one. I think it was mainly the style - I have a hard time treating something written in passionate, flowery prose as historically accurate and reliable. Unfair, I know. And Galeano is certainly an amazing writer. But I think this wasn't the source for me to learn about the horrific history of Latin America. On the other hand, when I mentioned to my boss that I was having a hard time turning off my skepticism while reading this one, he said that was the right impulse and to keep my skeptic dial turned to high. I'm currently too ignorant of Latin American history to offer much constructive criticism on that front. Maybe in another year or two...

On the flight back from Bogota I turned back to my kindle and started The Sanctuary, by Raymond Khoury. Another pure popcorn novel, as usual, involving secret societies, and, this time, the quest for immortality. Entertaining enough - chase scenes, fights, exotic locales. The usual.

Next up was The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau, a kids/young adult novel, featuring the standard early-teen hero and heroine and adults who range from villains to well-intended but useless to a few who are all right but marginal. This one actually hooked me enough to keep me up past my bedtime, though I have to say the ending was somewhat unsatisfying. I'll probably invest in the rest of the series...eventually.

Most recently I devoured DMZ Volume I, by Brian Wood (thanks Boing Boing!) - a most excellent graphic novel set in Manhattan, which has become a no man's land in the midst of an American civil war. Told from the perspective of a photography intern turned full fledged journalist, lots of good commentary on the current state of society, media, etc. They're up to volume 7, all of which I eventually plan on purchasing, preferably from my friendly neighborhood Geen Apple Books, just as soon as my feet can take me there.

Technically I've also been reading The Pragmatic Programmer, but that's psuedo-for-work, so, meh.


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