Tag Archives: the almost moon

the almost moon

The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold

having deeply enjoyed this author’s book the lovely bones, i was looking forward to diving into this book. and, while i did finish the book, and did find things about it that were worthwhile, i had a hard time. it’s just such a completely depressing story! holy cow.

it’s interesting: i read this book just after finishing howard dully’s non-fiction autobiography, my lobotomy. both stories (this one fiction) involve a horrible, over-bearing, critical, inescapable mother or stepmother. sure made me appreciate my own mom!

the almost moon’s narrator is a middle aged divorcee, who makes her living as a still life model for the art department of a local university. she’s hopelessly enmeshed with an agoraphobic, appearances-are-everything, walking paradox of a mother. with her mother seriously ailing, the narrator kills her in the opening chapter of the book. the rest of the book flashes back to various points in life, as well as playing out the subsequent 24 hours following the murder. it’s a mercy-killing of sorts, but it’s also murder with cause.

and, this is where i can see that — while i didn’t really enjoy the book — it’s a good piece of writing. sebold creates tension and paradox on so many levels in this book. the narrator both loves and hates her mother – this is clear. the murder seems both. the murder also seems moral and completely immoral, at the same time. these paradoxes flood the entire story, in a way that is compelling, but certainly not uplifting.

it’s not that i’m all that into happy-shiny books. but this one left me with almost nothing more than the thought that sebold is a good writer. i will say this: it might make a much more interesting movie than a book.

monday morning update, october 6, 2008

the weekend that was: jeannie was up in pasadena visiting a friend for the weekend, so it was officially “daddy weekend.” that means – in the oestreicher family lexicon – a weekend of normally unapproved debauchery. extra quantities of screens (tv, movies, games, computer), horrible food choices, and stuff like that. so: liesl had lots on, so it was basically me and max. we got mario kart for wii, and played that a lot; we walked up to our town’s oktoberfest (“the largest 3-day oktoberfest west of the mississippi!”) both evenings for dinner; max made chicken nuggets for breakfast saturday, and we went to baskin robbins for lunch (yes, ice cream for lunch). along the way, i watched two sad football games where the only two teams i care about (university of michigan and the san diego chargers) lost, because they played so horribly. and i got a 60-minute massage saturday afternoon (jeannie gave me a 6-pack of one-hour certificates for xmas last year, and i cashed one in this weekend — the masseuse came to our house, and set up in the back house). sunday afternoon was honey-do list stuff, then home church in the evening. then, late last night, i took off on a 40 hour silent retreat.

where i am at the moment: i’m in non-blogging land, actually. this post was set to go live monday morning, because i’m not actually here to post it. i have known, for a few weeks, that i’m living on the edge, physically, emotionally, spiritually. and i started to realize that going into the sacramento nywc in this condition would be a really, really bad choice, and potentially harmful. i was worried about being so over-the-edge that i would either burn out, or — in my weariness — fall back to my default arrogant prick self. about a week ago i looked at my calendar for today, and realized it was totally empty. that’s when i decided to wedge in a short silent retreat. i considered a place i’ve gone in the desert, and a place i’ve gone near the coast, and landed on the coastal place. so, last night i drove up, and started a 40-ish hour time of silence, prayer, reading, thinking, and sleep. i’ll drive back down tuesday late morning, and just go to work. i’m hoping this time will recalibrate, rejuvenate, detoxify, and refresh me.

on my to-do list this week: uh, there’s this little thing called the national youth workers convention. we have three of ’em. the first one, in sacramento, is this week. starts friday (with additional programs beginning thursday). i’m flying up wednesday afternoon, and coming home monday afternoon. jeannie and the kids are coming up friday evening through monday afternoon. to complicate things a bit more, we have a brand new spanish youth workers convention this weekend also! we’ve been doing our convencion internacional lideres jovenes in argentina and guatemala for a number of years. but this year we added a third spanish event, in dallas. it was unfortunate that they ended up on the same weekend. saturday morning, i leave sacramento and fly to dallas. i’ll do a general session there saturday afternoon, and spend the evening there. sunday morning, i fly back to the sacramento nywc. whew!

procrastinating about: at the moment, i’m still procrastinating about my general session talk for the convention.

book i’m in the midst of: finished my lobotomy this weekend (will post about that soon), and am still in the middle of the almost moon. also plan on reading mark riddle’s new book (which comes out in january, or something like that), called inside the mind of youth pastors, today; and i brought along cathleen falsani’s sin boldly, and hope to get to it also.

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: not normally a big hip-hop listener, two alt-hop (is that a term, or did i just make it up?) have caught my attention in the last couple weeks:
my friend bob sent me an itunes gift of “dear science” by the band, “tv on the radio.” really creative and complex stuff — unpredictable.
then i’ve also had the MIA album, Kala, on heavy rotation. the song “paper airplanes” has been on constant play on san diego alt rock stations, but the album is really, primarily a mash-up of alt/modern rock and hip-hop. very, very cool stuff.

next trip: i’m in north county san diego for a couple nights as i post this; but my next real trip is wednesday, for the national youth workers convention in sacramento.

how i’m feeling about this week: excited, stressed, hopeful, energized, weary, anticipatory, nervous, and probably 60 other emotions.

monday morning update, sept 29, 2008

oops — i totally spaced on a monday morning update last monday. i was out of town and it didn’t cross my mind until thursday, when i thought about posting one. but i just decided to wait ’til now…

the weekend that was: what a wonderful weekend, after a long and challenging week. really, i had nothing on. we had friends over friday night to watch the debate and eat way-yummy pizza from bronx pizza (the whitestone garlic pizza, with ricotta, spinach, garlic and added artichoke hearts, is the bomb). saturday, i got caught up on heroes, watched a little college football, then did about 4 or 5 hours of honey-do jobs (buying and putting together some storage containers for gardening stuff, hanging a few final pics on the walls, driving max to a birthday party). in the evening, a new neighbor came over and offered us two good tickets for the padres game. i was going to go with max, but jeannie mentioned that she hadn’t gone to a game this summer. so she and max went, and liesl and i got pick up stix carry-out and watched ‘miss pettigrew lives for a day’ on pay-per-view (which was kinda cute). sunday morning was church, then friends came over to watch the chargers game. see? nice and chill weekend.

where i am at the moment: i’m in town, at ys (and home) this entire week! this is the first full week in a while that i’ve been home.

on my to-do list this week: lots to do. i need to make progress on some partnerships we’re considering, and two international opportunities we’re considering. i need to re-write the opening session for the CORE one more time. i need to put together two seminars and one general session for the conventions this fall. and, i’m having breakfast with most of the ys staff in groups of 4 (4 mornings this week) to talk about our stress levels.

procrastinating about: i’m starting to think that i’ll be writing “i’m procrastinating about writing the middle school ministry book” every week this fall, even if i DO start to make progress on it.

book i’m in the midst of: finished up rob bell’s new one (jesus wants to save christians). reading two books right now for fun:
the almost moon, by alice sebold
my lobotomy, by howard dully

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: here’s one most of you haven’t heard of, but need to. when my family was in new zealand last year, our friend tash gave us a handful of kiwi discs to listen to while driving around. much of it was great, but one group became a favorite. then we forgot to bring the discs home. recently, tash replaced most of them for us. and this week, i listened to the amazing band evermore quite a bit. really great stuff, along the lines of oasis or radiohead. seriously, ya gotsta check ’em out (they’re on itunes).

next trip: NYWC in sacramento! boo-ya.

how i’m feeling about this week: good about being home, even if i have a lot to get done.

monday morning update, september 15, 2008

the weekend that was: a few things (all of which were at home, in san diego); but the dominant feature was walktheirwalk, a 12-mile walkathon my family participated in to try to raise money for two clean water wells in twachiyanda, zambia, africa. jeannie got up at 4:20am (she was part of the planning team, and had to work set-up); so she had a pretty good excuse for only doing 9 of the 12 miles. liesl, max and i all did the whole 12 (though max was on his razor scooter for a good portion of it). i know people all over the world walk longer than this on a regular, even daily, basis. but it’s sure more than my body is used to, and it kicked my butt. my feet and hips were killing me that day, my back and shins the next day. saturday afternoon i vegged, watching my beloved university of michigan get beaten by the fighting irish of notre dame. sunday (after a hollow experience of church), was more of the same, as the san diego chargers got seriously robbed (no, really, read about it – two wrong calls that, due to quirks of technology and rules, couldn’t be undone, either of which cost the chargers the game). and, i’m getting another wicked cold. so, yeah — good weekend through the end of the walk, weary and sad weekend since then!

where i am at the moment: in my office. we have a ys staff retreat this afternoon and evening. we’re all a bit worn out and working at 110%, and the craziness of convention season is just beginning. so we’re getting away for the afternoon to remind each other why we do this.

on my to-do list this week: i was supposed to travel to new york on wednesday, then on to a CORE test in the LA area of friday, coming home saturday. but my boss casually mentioned that i should cancel the new york trip, and i instantly knew she was right. so, i’m in the office until friday morning (i still have the 30 hour trip to azusa for the CORE test friday/saturday). i have a presentation to make to the CEO of harper collins (my parent company’s parent company) the following week, so that’s a biggie this week. i also have emergent village work to do, CORE test to prep, a dcla planning meeting, and a wide variety of other stuff. one of the good things about canceling my trip to NYC is that i get to meet my new 6th grade guys small group this wednesday night!

procrastinating about: yeah, the book. i think i was procrastinating about a few boxes that needed unpacking in our bedroom, but they’re done now. i didn’t realize i’d been procrastinating about them until i got to them.

book i’m in the midst of: two right now…
jesus wants to save christians, by rob bell
the almost moon, by alice sebold

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: been diggin’ me some chouchou (seriously, check ’em out. i bought them off amiestreet, the coolest music download site in the world). here’s what chouchou’s website says about them:

Chouchou is a Japanese music group which exists only in SecondLife.
It was formed on July, 2007 searching for new possibilities of music.

next trip: now that i’ve cancelled my nyc trip, i’m only driving up to azusa (a suburb of l.a.) for one night, friday and saturday. but i leave sunday for a 5-day trip to grand rapids and holland (michigan, that is), for a zondervan leadership team retreat, speaking at baker book house in grand rapids (wednesday morning — kind of a late “youth worker appreciation day”; if you’re a youth worker in the grand rapids area, come on out!), and a presentation to the CEO of harpercollins.

how i’m feeling about this week: relieved that i’m not traveling to nyc, but wishing i could shake this new cold.