Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Commonplace Book Entry

Our obligation is to give meaning to life and so to overcome the passive indifferent life.

 Elie Wiesel

Last night Tuyet made a spicy Vietnamese fish soup with tilapia fillets and a giant snow crab that was a gift from her mother. Our neighbor Kristina came over and taught my son Jack a bizarre song called "Fish Heads, Fish Heads, Roly Poly Fish Heads!" Jack was both amused and disconcerted. They watched a weird music video of the song on YouTube together.

I pretended to fish a fish head out of my bowl with chopsticks. Kristina stopped singing and suddenly looked very grave.

My husband Joe fished the snow crab out of the stock pot. Jack's eyes widened again. The crabs long claws hung limply over the sink. Joe began to extract the meat with delight.

 I was ready for an early bedtime since I had spent three hours with all the kids at the pool.  Little Mary was sleepy too. It's not easy to eat fish soup with a yawning four year old on your lap.

Tuyet invited Kristina and me into her room for cranberry juice and vodka after dinner, Kristina joined her, but I declined and said goodnight to all. I then carried Mary upstairs to our room where she promptly fell asleep. My eyelids were heavy too but I had not written anything new today, so I started editing a post I had written months ago about Elie Wiesel and Holocaust literature. Those topics proved far too weighty for my tired brain and soon I was sleeping next to Mary.

At 3AM I awoke, tiptoed downstairs, and perked coffee. I rummaged through my pantry shelf in the garage until I found some chocolate biscotti.

Settled in my room again, I read chapter 44 of A Child's History of the World, "A Christian Kingdom in Africa. I knew that St. Augustine was the bishop of the North African city of Hippo, but I didn't know much else about North African history. For example, did you know that the last king of Ethiopia claimed to be a descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba?

Yesterday I read a short book called Steal Like a Writer by Austin Kleon. I decided to think about my place in a "Genealogy of Ideas." Kleon encouraged me to build a lineage from artists who came before me that I admire, then place myself under their apprenticeship. That's what I'll be thinking about today.

Who would you include in a "Genealogy of Ideas"?

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