Sunday, June 06, 2004

Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #8 - Great Books!

I can't believe that it is Sunday already. It has been a couple of busy days for me. I woke up yesterday excited to realize it was only Saturday. I still had today to get some more things done. I have been trying to get caught up on all the journals that I got behind on. This has been quite the challenge, especially since I realized this morning that some of the addresses I had entered in Bloglines were Beta addresses and I wasn't being updated. So there I was behind on ones that I thought I had caught up on. But, I think I caught all of them. I have well over 120 journals that I like to peek at on a regular basis and even more in my journals links. One of these days I want to clean that up and transfer some of them over to my Bloglines, and vice versa. 

For those who haven't found Bloglines, I highly recommend it. I know that these journals have alerts now but I hate for my email box to overflow and good grief I would be overwhelmed with updates on 100+ journals. I'm also slowly but surely answering comments, which if interested, you can find in my older entries. I'm still a few entries behind though. I have entries waiting in the wings to be written. Pictures of graduation will hopefully come by the end of the day. So much journalling so little time. My car is in desparate need for a bath and somehow I want to fit in a hike today. Maybe I'll take a nap first. I'm tiring myself out thinking of all that I have to do.

But, now for the weekend assignment:

Name the book that you feel would best describe you to a total stranger. It could be any book -- a novel, a non-fiction book, a cookbook, or heck, even a textbook (if you're an academic type). The idea, however, is to present a book that would offer up some insight about you as a person.

Extra Credit: List a book that someone swore would be a book you would love -- and you didn't.

This was a tough one for me, as well as others. I've read so many books, how could I pick just one. I have some favorites but I really wasn't sure how they could possibly identify me as a person. Then, as I was driving home from graduation on Friday, it came to me. One of my all time favorite books is I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier. This is a book that I first read in 9th grade. It's a children's book written at a fifth grade level of reading but the complexity of the storyline can appeal to someone much older. In addition, the storyline is very dark.  I guess that's why we read it in 9th grade as opposed to an earlier grade. It's not a story that ends on a cheery note. It leaves you wondering and forming your own ideas about what was actually occurring throughout the story. It made me think.

As I read this book, I was intrigued how the storyline would jump from one scenario to another but all being told by the same person. One was the tale of this boy's bike ride. Another was his sessions with what you thought was a psychiatrist and the third his memories of being at home with his family. The three stories were interwined throughout. So, it was a challenge to follow where and what was going on.

It's the first book that I read that really pulled me in and made me not want to put it down. I was anxious to get to the end and have all of the answers.  Alas, when the end comes, it isn't tied up in a neat little package and your mind is left to calculate the puzzle of who was who and the whys and hows. I'd give a synopsis of the storyline but it's kind of complex and I'd rather use this space to explain why it defines me. I've left quite a few links to reviews, and what-not, if you'd like to know more about the story.

I chose this book for several reasons but the "aha" moment occurred because of the title: "I am the Cheese." Throughout the book he is singing the song "The Farmer and the Dell." I have faint memories of standing in a circle in Kindergarten singing this song with a line forming as the farmer takes a wife and so on and so forth. I never remembered the end. As I read the book, I couldn't understand why he was the cheese. At the end of the book, he finishes the song. "The mouse takes the cheese, the mouse takes the cheese. Hi-ho the dairy-o the mouse takes the cheese. And the cheese stands alone. And the cheese stands alone. Hi-ho the dairy-o, the cheese stands alone."

Even though I have many friends and family who I love dearly and I know that they love me. I have always had this very solitary feeling. I think it's actually a common human dilemna. Ultimately, feeling all alone in this world. I was really feeling it Friday as all my friends were surrounded by family and friends celebrating in their graduation. I didn't make a big deal out of my graduation because really it's an anti-climatic event for me and I'll explain that more when I do my entry about graduation but to always be the third wheel, the single friend, the one driving home alone can be a bit depressing for me. I'd like to have a special someone, a family of my own, but at this point in time it's not what life has offered me. As such, I am the cheese.

The story too says much about who I am. The complexity of it speaks to the complexity of who I am as a person. But when all is said and done, the book is fairly simple because of it's reading level. And, like the book, in spite of all the textures and complexities that make me who I am, I too am a fairly simple person. Wanting nothing more than peace, happiness, and love, like everyone else.

Now, for the book that was recommended. I don't recall any that someone swore that I would love but I did receive a book for Christmas one year that I just hated. You see a friend asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her "Waking the Dead" but I didn't know who the author was just that Jennifer Connolly starred in the movie version. I mentioned  this book in Scalzi's #2 Weekend Assignment as my 2nd favorite book, with "I am the Cheese" being number one. Well, my friend forgot the title except that it contained the word "dead" and something about Connolly. So, she got me a book titled "Every Dead Thing" by John Connolly. I'm not much for this genre but I'll read just about anything. As I read the book, I really couldn't get into it as the author seemed to wax on about nothing important to the storyline. Then all of the sudden in the last portion of the book it seems the author realizes his story has gone astray and ties it up in this absolutely bizarre way that just seemed lame and from out of left field. My roommate read the book after I did and loved it, but such is life. Like art, books, are very subjective.


musenla said...

I am the Cheese sounds like such a heavy read for a kid.  So many themes are going on there, and the solitary message in the end a bit depressing.  Now I'm curious about the book; I've put it in my TBR list.

I think we all feel solitary at one point or another.  It's that inhereent knowledge that we were born alone and will die alone.  But that's ok.  The beginning and the end of life are solitary journeys each one of us must take.  It's the trip in between that makes all the difference.  =P

karensull12 said...

I've never read this book, but it sounds like something I would like.  You did a good job of telling why you felt this book gave insight into you as a person.  I found it difficult to find a book that reflected me.  The book I picked spoke more to the type of book that I like to read than of me as a person.  I feel solitary a lot, too.  Did your Mom come to your graduation?  Or any family?  And Robbie, we all want what we think we don't have, and a lot of times it keeps us from enjoying what we DO have.  I know you'll find someone to share your life with.  I always like to think that when you least expect it, expect it...

dymphna103 said...

I am going to have to check this book out, ok graduation?   john

onestrangecat said...

I have never heard of I am the Cheese.  I will have to check it out.


goldenchildnc said...

Never heard of the book, but I'm loving the title! LOL! And I'm with you on the alerts. I'm completely over them! WAAAAAY too many alerts! :-)

lucylouladybug said...

"I am the Cheese"...would you say cheddar, brie, Colby (can't say that one, he's, I mean, it's mine, lol)!  I haven't read this book, but I have a feeling I can relate.  Funny how there's so many people in this big ole world that feel alone...I know I do most of the time.

Love you, Penny

ggal3133 said...

Great entry and I'll have to check this book out. This assignment has expanded my reading list now, which is a good thing :)
There are way too many alerts for me to even think about so thanks for the Bloglines link. I'll be checking that out soon!

plieck30 said...

Robbie you always have family here. Thanks for all the nice comments in my journal yesterday. Paula

txsguinan said...

I know well that solitary feeling you describe; it is indeed a common human dilemma.  There's a line in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" that has always spoken to me; that in the end, "We live as we dream - alone".  It's a poetic image of the haunting isolation that I suspect we all feel, to greater and lesser degrees throughout our lives.  It's one of my favorite books.  Thankyou for sharing yours ~ it sounds they have similar themes.

PS ~ 120 journals?!  Are you mad?  I can't keep up with a dozen!  There should be an award...   :)

sistercdr said...

I know that solitary feeling all too well and finding myself connecting has been an unexpected blessing in my life.  Cormier is one of my favorite young adult authors. He can compel you into the darker places and make you grateful you went there and grateful to find the sun again.

screaminremo303 said...

Indeed, I find you quite Cheesy. More of a Gorgonzola, perhaps, but cheesy nonethless.

slowmotionlife said...

I envy those who are able to choose ONE book to describe themselves.  I thought about it all through the weekend and decided I simply couldn't do it.  I find so much of myself in so many of the books I love.

Great weekend assignment, girl!  And I know what you mean about bloglines.  They don't always show updates on my end either.  Gotta get more organized.  :P

babyshark28 said...

I have never heard of, I am the cheese. ha.  funny the art on the front though.  I had a book that I read in 9th grade, can't remember the title, though there was a black vw bug on the front with a girl with long black hair, mixed up in drugs.  It was good. life changing.  I wish I could remember the title!  It was soo good.

and, WOW on all those journals!  I just couldn't handle that.  I am just not that organized. ;P  good luck. :)

spnsheart said...

Hi...I just came across your journal and have to tell you that I love the way you write.  I will definetly be back to read often.  I've never heard of "I am the Cheese" but will have to try and find this book to read.  It sounds interesting.  My favorite book book growing up was "Island of the Blue Dolphin".  I could see myself as her.    Congratulations on the graduation!


lamove04 said...

Know that 3rd wheel feeling all too well... Since I'm reading at about the 5th grade level right now (People and Us Magazines) maybe I'll check out the book! :-)

mlraminiak said...

It doesn't matter whether your life is solitary or full of friends and family, the realization comes to everyone that, ultimately, we are all alone.  This fact hits me right between the eyes from time to time.  I find it sad, yet strengthening.  Lisa  :-]

andreakingme said...

I've heard a lot of good stuff said about I AM THE CHEESE over the years, but I've never read it. But from what you wrote about how and why the story affected you, it seems like I'd be a piece of cheese right beside you! I'm Baby Swiss. Maybe Colby Jack ...

Giggles aside, I grew up feeling alone, too. And different. I think most of us have. Which is probably why IATC is so well loved.

Hey! I love your Journal's new look. You look so calm, cool and composed up there! Like a celebrity columnist.

marigolds2 said...

great entry.  i read this book as an adult, and found it entirely intriguing.  Cormier is a brilliant author who doesn't underestimate young people.  he knows how complicated their lives and thoughts really are.
and - if i lived within 100 miles of you i would have come to your graduation, for real, yes i would've.  

quroboros said...

Interesting and a trifle sad at the same time.  Everyone is alone when you think about it; we're all solitary souls who privately ponder what we won't reveal to anyone.  The trick is being comfortable in your own skin.. understanding and truly accepting yourself for who you are.  You can be constantly surrounded by people and still feel alone otherwise.  ¤Holly

haikulike said...

What's my deal?  why am I just now getting here?  This is a great, great look into you and your tastes (not entirely surprising...just confirmation)  I must remember the end of the song.  ... I vaguely do.  What a grand transitional device for this author.  I'd be very proud to say, "and the cheese stands alone."
Works for you!  

belfastcowboy75 said...

An interesting footnote to I Am the Cheese: Cormier put his real telephone number in the book (the number that the boy kept calling). For years students who called the number got to talk to the author. My first visit; wonderful journal.

krobbie67 said...

MUSE: Oh it’s a thinking read but I don’t think it’s heavy. You’ll wiz through it in a day, it’s that easy to read.

KAREN: Sadly, my mom wasn’t at my graduation. But, I didn’t have anyone at my high school graduation either. It was much more of a big deal then though. This graduation was a joke, no loss for anyone not to have attended.

JOHN: I think you might like the book. Give it a try.

KATHY: Robert Cormier also wrote the “Chocolate Wars,” which I didn’t enjoy as much. But, I read that book as an adult. However, I have read “I am the Cheese” since the time I read it in school and still enjoyed it immensely.

GREGG: I only use the alerts for comments and for private journals. I would flip out if I tried to keep up on journals with them. I love getting the comment alerts though. That way I don’t have to check in on my journal.  And, since I won’t be checking my journal or any others from work any more, I can use AOL by phone to listen to my email.

PENNY: Ha! Ha! It’s sad that I have these lonely feelings too, because it’s not like I don’t know tons of people. I think sometimes it’s my own doing though. Or, like I said, it’s a common human dilemma.

GRETCHEN: Slomo is the one to thank for Bloglines. I had a link to it for the longest time but never gave it a try, then she took the dive and told us all about it. It has glitches from time to time but it’s so much better than Journal surfing and wasting time hitting journals that haven’t updated, or using alerts that fill up your email. I do keep a list though of journals elsewhere just encase the site ever disappears. I can’t figure out how they make money. It’s a free service and there aren’t any ads.

krobbie67 said...

PAULA: Thanks! I have lots of friends and family. I don’t know why I feel this way.

TXSGUINAN: Wow, that book sounds interesting. I’ve read some of Joseph Conrad’s works but I don’t think I’ve read that one. It will definitely go on my list of “To Be Reads.” And, yes, I am mad.

CYNTHIA: I love your last line. Grateful to go to the dark places and grateful to find the sun. Exploring both really are essential to feel truly grateful.

SCREMO: Now, I would label you Lindburger (sp). Stinky but tolerable enough to digest. ;-p

SLO: It was difficult to decide. However, the story itself isn’t necessarily what explains me. After all, this is about a boy caught up in the witness protection program. So, I really had to look at that alone theme more than I did the storyline itself.

BABYSHARK: If it weren’t for Bloglines, I couldn’t handle it either. However, most of the time, I am behind on keeping up with all of them. I let some go several entries and then catch up on the journal all in one swoop.

MARIA: Thanks for stopping by. I don’t recall the book that you mentioned. It sounds interesting though.

ALBERT: 3rd grade level heh? You are much too intelligent for that trash. LOL

MLRAMINIAK – LISA: At first when I read that you found the alone feeling as being strengthening, I was bewildered how you could. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that you are right. There are a lot of things that I have done on my own and it is strengthening to know that I can manage just fine.

ANDREA: Aw…thanks! I probably look so calm and composed because it was my last night of class. I was feeling quite calm. Composed? I’m not so sure about. I head to class straight from work. My hair is disheveled and my makeup is smudged at best. But, thank you, none-the-less.

krobbie67 said...

MARIGOLD: Aw…thanks, but trust me the graduation wasn’t worth attending. I am glad no one I knew wasted their time to show up.

HOLLY: Well, I’d like to think I have grown quite comfortable in my own skin. I need my alone time but I know myself well enough to know that I am a very social person. I need human contact. I could never be a hermit.

MUMSY: What’s your deal? Probably the same as mine. So many journals, so little time.

COWBOY: Yes, I read that when I was hunting down the links. I never knew that until then. Otherwise, I might have given the number a try. Pretty cool of him, in my book. Thank you for stopping by and as I said in your journal. I am humbled you would bestow any kind of compliment on my journal. Your writing is brilliant!