Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Long Form

One of the GrandFarkles was reading Crime and Punishment in JannyLou's kitchen last night.  TBG and I had been invited to join the family for an end-of-the-summer dinner, even though summer's end had been heralded for their grandchildren by the start of school several weeks ago. One high schooler was writing a paper on the day bed in the picture window.  The college student was busy; though his education takes place a just few miles from his ancestral home, he's away-at-school and couldn't join the rest of the crew on the ride down to Granny's.

There are serious students in JannyLou's family. Crime and Punishment was frilled with small post-its, each one a reference to a point to be made, an essay to be composed, a thought to be completed.  Talking to smart young people is such a joy for me; their first introduction to works I've studied never fails to put a smile on my face.  The gymnast granddaughter, arms wrapped in healing tape to protect her rubbed-raw-by-the-straps-and-ropes flesh, was not put off by the length of the novel.  She loves the classics.

That's a sentence designed to warm the cockles of my heart these days.  Wuthering Heights, Jane Austin, the Greeks - these are not graphic novels or Twitter feeds.  They require diligence, concentration, a long term commitment.

She's willing to take the time to immerse herself in another world.  She'll give up an hour or two at a time, reading and thinking and reading some more. She picks them up on her own; assignments are just guides on the path to a well-read future.

She gives me hope for the future.

I was spoiled, spending three weeks in my daughter's guest room.  Her bookshelf was filled with the remains of her English Major from IU.  Wuthering Heights was there, but I re-read it a few years ago for a class.  I picked up Jane Eyre while Little Cuter was in labor, reveling in 19th century England as my daughter created a 21st century human.  FlapJilly's family-filled world is far removed from orphan Jane's constant need to reassure herself that she is valuable; my granddaughter will have no need for a ring of keys to know her own worth.  Still, she will have adventures, plunging into new places with trepidation coupled with urgency and an open heart... at least, that is my wish for her.  Perhaps they are not so far removed from one another at all.

Those are the kind of thoughts that the long form brings out in me.  I read for an hour or two, and I spend the rest of the day in the English countryside, wondering how a vapid eight year old could possibly be an interesting companion for a girl as thoughtful as Jane.  I roll notions around in my brain, comparing travel alone then and now, opportunities squandered and options explored.  I don't get that kind of amusement from Twitter.

Perhaps it started with Sesame Street.  Short vignettes, letters and numbers tearing across the screen, character development something that took place over months and years of watching short segments, rather than rolling out over an hour's time.  That worked for pre-schoolers, those with the attention span of a fruit fly.  The longer segments, like Miami Mice, appealed to the grownups stirring oatmeal more than to the toddlers to whom the show was ostensibly directed. 

It was at times like those that I flashed back to Popeye cartoons. I loved the bluster and the triumph of spinach-fueled good over big, bearded, evil.  Growing up, seeing the same cartoons as an adult, I was more taken by Popeye's mumblings.... directed to the adults in the audience more than the kids enjoying the spectacle.  That kind of two-tiered attraction doesn't happen in 140 characters.


  1. Thanks for the compliments for the Grandkids. Grandma Farkle

  2. I've always love the classics. I took a World Literature class in my senior year in hight school and it was one of my favorite classes. My favorite book was Dante's Inferno. Still love that book to this day.

    Gosh... now you have me wanting to go grab it out of my library and read it again (for the 12th time). ;)

    Happy Tuesday.

    Megan xxx

    1. Loving those circles of Hell right along side you, Megan! I took a class .... the professor's mother stood up and recited,in Italian, from memory, the passage we were reading that day. Heavenly !


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