Friday, January 4, 2013

Inspirational, and a little bit scandalous, women

So, alas, I took about a month long break (okay, fine, a month-and-a-half, you caught me) to attempt to pass classes, spend some much needed time with Heath, his parents, my parents, and the rest of my family. I am slightly bitter that I only know half of my grades at this point...because, of course, it does take a professor a full month to grade four short answer questions. Oh, wait, it doesn't? Then why is it taking my $190,000-per-year making professor a month to grade it. Also, tangent-ing here, is that not an absolutely obscene figure for a man teaching two classes over the course of a semester? Heath and I had tenured, Ph.D'ed professors at our alma mater that read and graded 55-68 page theses in a week and made less than some cashiers. Oh, and they commented on them too. Good comments. I'm sorry but I fail to see why a man who receives massive incentive to grade in a timely manner can't take less than a month to post grades. It's just ridiculous. However, aside from the nonsense of waiting for grades to decide whether going back to that law school city is even worth it (only slightly kidding on that one), the vacation has been not only relaxing but absolutely wonderful. I've gotten to spend three weeks solid with Heath and a week-and-a-half with my parents and family. Heath even got to make his way down to spend a few days with my family before we made our way back home where we're spending some time with his family. The holiday has consisted of fudge, various breakfast cakes, marzipan...oh, and my Grandmother's lengthy stay at the hospital and surgery for her freshly broken femur. That definitely threw a wrench in the holiday plans. Fortunately, though, she is doing well, in spite of the break. She's just as stubborn and talkative as ever and I'm sure she'll raise hell for people at rehab. Also, I find it quite amusing to say that my...older grandmother is in rehab (can't say her age...even though she doesn't know her way around a computer, probably couldn't even turn it on if you did it for her, if word got out, she would skin me alive). But, sadly, winter break is coming to a swift end, spring semester is about to set in, and life is about to go back to overstressed and missing Heath...awesome. Plus side though? One-sixth of the way through law school, actually retaining information, and I get to take criminal law this semester. Super cool to all three of those things.

However, enough of my life. I'm sure anybody who might be reading this has something way better to do than listen to me gripe, be positive, gripe some more, and then ramble on about something completely nonsensical. But, if you have made it this far and are at least a little entertained, I thank you for making my shoutings out into the internet world at least a little bit reasonable and valid. The book for today is Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History's Most Notorious Women, penned by one Elizabeth Kerri Mahon, also known as the blogger of the wondrous blog, (a small plug for you there, Ms. Mahon, because you are freaking awesome). I received this book as a stocking stuffer from my future mother-in-law either as an insult (you are not suitably scandalous), a compliment (you will become/already are scandalous), both, or just because it's interesting. I could definitely be reading way too much into this gift but I No harm, no foul, and I haven't yet figured out what or whether she was trying to say anything. Regardless of any hidden meaning on the part of Heath's mother, I'm thrilled that she gave me this book.

It is basically an accounting of thirty-five women who changed the course of history, as well as women's place in history, by way of adventure, misbehaviour, misconduct, strategic maneuvering (which was frequently called manipulation in earlier days), and making a general ruckus as Ms. Mahon calls it. It is an inspirational telling of how one woman can change behaviour by flouting societal norms and conventions in what the men of those days would call misbehaving. In it, there are mini-biographies ranging from Cleopatra to Mata Hari to Amelia Earhart to Mary Wollstonecraft to Calamity Jane to Frida Kahlo (to name but a few). To be frank, when I first opened the wrapping paper, all I could think was, "It's a book! But, oh god, it's a history book. I hate history books. I might be a book lover but, oh god, I hate history books. But I have to read it or I might hurt Heath's mom's feelings. No..." This inner monologue did not stop me from smiling and giving Heath's mom a hug and thank you but I did dawdle quite a bit in starting it, even though the cover does have a woman's extended leg with a garter on it- that has to be at least a little bit interesting, based on the cover art. However, I have been let down by many a book with a cool looking cover. I put off reading it as long as I could (all of a week...I can never say no to a book) but, within pages, I was hooked. I couldn't put it down. Ms. Mahon makes history interesting by speaking of interesting women, most of whom reasonable women nowadays would aspire to be like, interesting events, and not making it boring! I can't emphasize that enough. She has a fun, quirky way of writing that gives life to women who already had more than enough character, gumption, and much-ness. Hell, in Joan of Arc's mini-bio, Ms. Mahon paraphrases that not the top of the cool-board right there? It can't be easy to merge a medieval French warrior teenager who allegedly heard saint's voices and Journey. And yet...she does it. And she does similar things with many of the other women in the book. The incredible thing about it is that it's not shoehorned in or awkward sounding. It feels like a fresh retelling of history that isn't the same old thing that sounds the same old way as it did when your centuries old, decrepit, male history professor who actually must have survived the Hundred Years War said it. To those who might be reading who had young professors or female history professors who are are obviously excluded from the decrepit history prof description and you just skyrocketed in brownie cool points with me (which are not made all).

For those of you who, like me, are spunky females who have a strong desire to leave their mark on history or just want to do something that changes things, either now or for women to come, you should read this book. It's such an enlightening and fun read and it has a little something for everybody. If you're the woman who wants to inspire a man in his writing or art or what have you, there's a section for you where you will hobnob with Zelda Fitzgerald and others.

If you want to be that strong woman who changed history by way of actions (their own) and conquered kingdoms by way of war and strategy as well as men's hearts, there's a spot for you where you can rule with Cleopatra. Even for those of you who want to be adventurers who travel the world and conquer it, either one record at a time (first woman to fly solo around the Atlantic) or seeing all the sights and recording them for future generations, you will be in good company with Ms. Amelia Earheart...although I do hope that your journey goes a wee bit more successfully than hers did.

Artists, fear are not shunned in this book. Frida Kahlo welcomes you into the group of artists. And for those of you who aren't sure how you want to change the world...well, then, you're right at home here too because none of these women knew how drastically they would alter things when they started out on their road, either. Regardless of who you are or where you are in life, you should read this book. It is an excellent tribute to women of the past and a good inspiration of what we ourselves can do in the future.

And I now (finally) come to a close. Hope you enjoyed. Harley Quinn, out.