9.19.2012

More About Me Than You Need to Know (and a recipe for guacamole)

one sad egg

My kids often ask me to tell them stories about when I was a kid.  Today, I've got a childhood story for you.

When I was about 9 or 10, I remember sitting in a bean bag in the children's section of the public library, reading a Danielle Steele novel.  When my mom came over and saw what I was reading, she quickly took the book away and rightly informed me that I was too young to read Danielle Steele.  I was dismayed, and probably a little embarrassed.  It was years before I picked up another Danielle Steele book, only to realize that her books were not my thing.  Mother knows best.

Fast forward a few years, when I was not allowed to see the movie, A Handmaid's Tale, because it was rated R.  Somehow I discovered that the movie was based on a book (how did we discover anything before the internet?), so I went to the library and checked it out.  Several things were born out of this discovery: my love for Margaret Atwood; my love for the filmed novel; and my fascination with dystopian literature.

Forget romance and riches, ala Danielle Steele.  I want to read about corrupt governments, unethical science experimentation, extreme civil rights violations, horrific plagues, and post apocalyptic societies.  Margaret Atwood is a master of dystopian literature.  In addition to The Handmaid's TaleOryx and Crake and The Flood depict quite severe, futuristic dystopian landscapes, with complicated characters fighting for survival.  If the dystopian filmed novel interest you, I recommend reading and watching The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, and Never Let Me Go,by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I've been thinking a lot this week about my taste in books, and what drives me to pick up one book over another, as books are ever present in my life.  My interest in dystopian/post apocalyptic literature was likely influenced by my upbringing.  I was raised with a religion that preached the end of days.  Growing up, armageddon was right around the corner.  I was assured I'd survive it if I was properly equipped with faith and perseverance, but the whole concept scared the hell out of me.  I didn't believe that the end of days would be swift or painless, and I feared I needed more than the fruits of the spirit to see me through.

I am no longer waiting for or fearful of doom and gloom, but I still find solace in reading stories of doom and gloom.  I find a sense of kinship with writers who, like me, imagine how things could go wrong, and what a dystopic future might look like.  I find inspiration in characters who face hardship, battle unspeakable evils, and fight for a better future.  I take mental notes on the smarts and tools they use to survive, you know, just in case.

Attempting to read a book beyond my years as a child, and later reading a book because I couldn't see a movie, reveals something else about me: I am stubbornly independent.  If you tell me I can't do something, I'll find a way to do it.  This trait likely made me a difficult child to raise (sorry Mom and Dad!), but it's also something that I like about myself.  It's a trait that might serve me well one day, should I be wrong about the timing of the end of the world as we know it.  Oh, no, not I.  I will survive.

Why am I telling you all of this?

In my last post, I shared a few quotes from a book I'm currently reading, a book I heard mentioned in a podcast and rushed to the library to pick up because the word "dystopian" was used in its description.  My ears perked up.  What?  A classic dystopian book I hadn't read yet?

I was dismayed, and a little embarrassed, when several commenters felt the need to rebuke my choice of reading material based on their strong feelings about the author of the book, an author whom I still know very little about (but thanks to my stubborn independence, I'm determined to learn more).  I felt like a kid, sitting on a bean bag at the library, being scolded for the book in my hands.

It is fine if you don't like the books I read, or the food I eat, or the activities in which I choose to participate, or even the things I believe or don't believe.  You are entitled to express your opinions.  I love opinions!  I want to hear what you have to say, which is why I allow comments on my blog.

But please know that opinions that sound like condemnations, assumptions about my beliefs, condescending name calling, and a general negative tone, makes me uncomfortable.  For me, visiting a blog is like stepping inside someone's home.  Take a look around, have a seat and let's chat if you have the time, but please have respect for my space.  Negativity has a way of permeating a space and making it uninviting and unappealing to both the host and visitors.

Sadly, this whole experience made me realize a trait I possess that I don't like: I am sensitive.  Aidan's egg, as seen above, speaks to me, one sad egg to another.  Since 2006, I have written over 600 posts, and I've received over 12,000 comments.  That's over one thousand dozen!  I can probably fill a small egg container with the negative comments I've received over six years; they are a drop in the bucket, but they make a big splash, overpowering the thousands of nice and encouraging comments.

I won't censor comments (unless they're spam), and I also refuse to censor myself for fear that you might disagree with me.  I now understand why some of my friends have turned off comments on their blogs, but I don't want to shut the door and close down the communication which comments facilitate.  Instead, I'll work on toughening my shell.  Maybe some more calcium in my diet?

Speaking of diet, let's talk about food.  Food is usually a safe topic.  Guacamole anyone?

everyday guacamole

I call it "everyday guacamole" because I make it five days a week for George's lunch, and sometimes on the weekend for family and friends.  Below are recipes for a single serving and a batch large enough to share.  It's quite simple and unadorned.  My grandpa declared it the best guacamole he's ever had, but I happen to know he's biased towards me.

Everyday Guacamole

Single serving:
1 avocado
1/4 of a small red onion, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (about a quarter of a lemon)
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

For a small crowd:
4 avocados
1 small red onion, minced
the juice of one lemon
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Mash all of the ingredients together to your preferred consistency.  Chunky or smooth, it's up to you.  Stick an avocado pit in the guacamole to prevent it from browning if you're not going to eat it right away.

I serve my guacamole with sliced jicama, or "not chips", as my friend Heather teases me.  Enjoy!

35 comments:

  1. Yes. Yes. Once again dear friend, I'm awfully proud just to know you. Thanks for being such a good-hearted, well-meaning, well-mannered and yet stubborn, stand-strong individual --- not afraid to sometimes speak out but also know how to hold your tongue. You move forward with the measure of thought that I wish more people devoted to both their words and actions.

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  2. I'm sorry you had to experience negativity in your comment section. You have such a lovely blog. It always feels good here. What a great and honest post (and with avocados to boot)!

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  3. I like how you described commenting. I agree it should be like visiting someone's house. That was well put. I'm glad you did not let naysayers stop you. I enjoy your blog and appreciate that you opened my eyes to a different type of novel. I watched the Handmaiden's Tale, but I bet the book was better.

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  4. I enjoyed reading the comments in the previous post. I have read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and while I don't agree with everything Ayn Rand believed, they definitely provide food for thought. Talk about a strong female character! BTW, the Paleo chicken/avocado recipe you posted awhile back was delish! Thanks.

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  5. What does this have to do with soccer? HAHA!

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  6. I agree about visiting blogs being like visiting my home. Is it just my blog, or are all the nasty people anonymous/no way to email back? I hate that. If you want to argue with me, fight fair. Let me respond, if nothing else, I may be able to clarify an issue simply as easily. But don't attack me. There is no reason. I figure, if I wouldn't say something to your face, no way I'd leave it on your blog.
    And guacamole makes everything better.

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  7. i never think to add red onion..mybe because i never have it on hand...i use fresh garlic...i love those tangy garlicky bites the best. oh and you are brave and strong.

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  8. So sorry to hear about your negative comments - no one has the right to tell someone else what they can and can't read (unless they are a concerned mum to an overenthusiastic reader!), being able to read what we like is one of our most wonderful rights and people should read what entices them.

    I'm a huge fan of Margaret Atwood - her books are so wonderful. I'm desperate to get my hands on a copy of 'The blind assassin' but after much searching in a variety of libraries over the years still no luck. I'll go off now and add 'The road' and 'Never let me go' to my yet to read list, thanks so much for the suggestions!

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  9. "I felt like a kid, sitting on a bean bag at the library, being scolded for the book in my hands." Wow how timely! You described perfectly how I feel about something I just experienced with a "friend". I guess I'd rather be sensitive than insensitive; although because I'm sensitive, it's hard to get past things like this. :)

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  10. I've always wanted to be introspective about my choices in reading (and music and movies). I wish I could look at myself and say something other than "I just like an escape" or "It was fun to read." Sadly, I can't. I'm not that intuitive, I guess. (:

    I do know what sorts of books I generally like, though. And willing as I am to try new and different things, I'll leave those dystopian novels to you and my husband. Anthem and 1984 (in high school) were enough to last me a lifetime!

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  11. Oh friend! You never fail to amaze and inspire me with your grit.
    And, Never Let Me Go is ****maybe**** my all-time favorite heart-breaking book.
    Keep it real, and read, and share, whatever you please.

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  12. You know I love coming here to visit - I find you insightful and thought provoking not to mention inspiring. Thanks for sharing these words.

    I have never added red onion to my guac. I will try it.

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  13. I first read Rand when I was in high school. Was warned against it. Thought it was good reading and didn't take the politics behind it to heart (and I was much much more conservative then). Sometimes books are just books. Just because we read them doesn't mean we live them. That said, I just put the kabosh on the Hunger Games with my almost-9-year old.
    I think people are down on Rand these days because of certain politicians' admiration for her work.
    Keep on, Molly, keep on. xo

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  14. I've never left a comment, but thought I should today. Thank you for allowing me into your space and glimpsing bits of your life. I find it inspiring, interesting and motivating. I always look forward to a new post and a new perspective.

    Enjoy your day!

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    1. Thank you, Tammi!

      I love your profile picture. Makes me imagine sitting down next to you, sipping a glass of wine, and watching the waves roll in.

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  15. Your blog always makes me smile as you write about how strong and determined you are in your life choices! Dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels are my favorite genre, too, and you list some of the best in this post. I hope you are reading Anthem, and enjoying it! I love dystopias because they jump right to the heart of what it means to be human when society is stripped away or seriously altered better than romantic novels or horror stories. Also, if people take issue with an author, how better to learn what it is you disagree with than to READ some of their works? Good for you to keep expanding your horizons! I would also highly recommend checking out this list of some of the best post-apocalyptic novels (definitely read The Stand by Stephen King!): http://www.flavorwire.com/315584/the-10-best-end-of-the-world-novels?fb_action_ids=795779250131&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=246965925417366

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    1. Thank you for the link! I've only read half of them. The Last Man by Mary Shelley piqued my interest, though reading Frankenstein last summer was no small task :) I might have to go for a few light reads before I dive in to Shelley. My brother in law also highly recommended The Stand. Another big book!

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  16. I love dystopian books too. I've read some good ones from the YA section in recent years. Besides the Hunger Games series, I also enjoyed Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. The books that really kept me up at night were the books in the series by Susan Beth Pfeiffer starting with Life As We Knew It. I think because those were not set in some future century, they freaked me out with the what ifs! Thanks for inviting us into your blog home. It is always an interesting read, and I appreciate the diversity of topics!

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    1. I should add that I am sharing these titles one dystopian fan to another! These are just some fun picks and good reads, not meant to compare in cultural weighty-ness to AS. :)

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    2. Thank you for the suggestions! I will look them up at the library. I find YA books to be a refreshing reprieve from "cultural weighty-ness" :)

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  17. My mom always told me to put the avocado pit in too...does it really work? One of my favorite avocado snacks as a kid was mashed avocado mixed with a bit of sugar, spread on whole wheat toast. Not sure what the Paleo version of that might be...
    Keep sharing and I appreciate you leaving the comments open because that's half the fun of reading posts for me! I can't tell you how many times I've learned valuable things from the commentary on a post.

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    1. Yes, the pit trick really does work!

      I, too, love reading commentary on posts, and have picked up great suggestions along the way.

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  18. I hate Ayn Rand, but I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't actually read her books! Also, I LOVE Margaret Atwood--she is the perfect counterbalance to rugged individualism :)

    I am actually at the library now about to check out Never Let Me Go, and I just wanted to thank you for the recommendation!

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    1. I hope you enjoy the book! It's hauntingly good.

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  19. Speak it girl....I love getting to visit you at your place. Mostly I sit quietly in the corner and soak it all up. Usually I take away something new that enriches my life just a bit. Thanks for that.

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  20. I think the problem with the analogy of "blog as living room" is that you would never invite every person on the planet with access to a computer into your living room. Usually, we invite to our living room people who we like, people we know, who have similar values and conventions. Perhaps blog readers self select which places they visit, but there is always the chance that people who are not like minded will happen along.

    In this instance, Molly, you chose a hot-button author, and when you got a heated response, asked for more opinions. And got them. And then call them "opinions that sound like condemnations, assumptions about my beliefs, condescending name calling, and a general negative tone" when they are different from yours. I find it hard to believe that you had not heard of Ayn Rand, and came to her book with complete naivete about her influence on American politics.

    I generally lurk on this blog, stopping in now and again for a recipe or hoping for a picture of a chicken. It was pretty jarring to find you gushing about someone who so vehemently hates my worldview. Out of respect for your space, my response was toned down to a very light beige, from the screaming neon orange where it started. If that was too loud for your sensitivities, I don't think that thinking of the blog as your living room, and inviting differing opinions, is what you really mean to be doing.

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    1. Wow,rosesmama,I think YOU may have a problem! Just because she was"gushing about someone who so vehemently hates my worldview" sets you to "screaming neon orange" tells me that YOU are the one with problems with someone else's opinions!! If someone liking an author that you hate sets you to rage,you need to see why that is and not blame the person who has a different opnion than you. And if all you are doing here is looking for a chicken recipe,then go elsewhere.There are plenty of cooking blogs out there. We happen to like this blog just the way it is!!! Darlene

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    2. It's true, I usually know the people who come into my living room, but I don't even know your name. Still, that is how I view my blog. It's a room of my own, and I fill it as I please. Living in a small house with three other people, I value a sense of my own space, even if it's virtual.

      I don't visit many blogs myself, but when I do, I generally move along quietly if I don't like what I see.

      You might doubt my sincerity and honesty, but no, I had no idea Ayn Rand was a hot button. I grew up under a rock. A religious rock. I was raised in a completely apolitical family. There were no talk of politics around the dinner table. The first political conversations I had in my life occurred when I met my husband at the age of 20. I distinctly remember looking up the words "democrat" and "republican" in the dictionary because I had no idea what they implied.

      To be honest, I'm still confused. The democrats I know are, for the most part, fiscally conservative, and the republicans seem to be so for religious reasons (which confuses me even more as I grew up with the belief that religion and politics shouldn't mix).

      I was a science major in college, so not a lot of political enlightenment occurred in the classroom for me. The only exposure I had to Ayn Rand prior to picking up Atlas Shrugged was seeing a copy of "Fountainhead" on the bookshelf at a college friend's house. I remember liking the font of the title, but wasn't curious enough to find out more. Funny, but I think the title font was similar to the font on Margaret Atwood's, The Blind Assassin.

      Call me naive and uninformed. I am both. I willingly accept those terms. But that religious rock I grew up under left a mark, and the term "acolyte" was like salt in a wound. By conscious choice, I am no longer a religious devotee to anyone or anything (OK, accept maybe CrossFit).

      Funny thing is, I still don't know where our opinions differ. I happened to share a few quotes from the book I was reading as they related to my current interest in life. I did not gush about the book or it's author. You obviously have a strong opinion about both, but as I haven't finished the book and know little about it's author, I haven't yet formed my opinion.

      Yes, out of curiosity, I did ask for more opinions. My brother in law, Mark, responded, and his response opened up a conversation. We had a long phone chat the other night, and I'm sure our conversation will continue the next time we see each other. I seek out opinions and conversations because I seek understanding, not confrontation.

      Yet, besides your dislike for Rand, I still know nothing about your worldview. I suspect we have more in common than not, especially considering you come here for recipes and pictures of chickens. But who knows, maybe not. How can we find out if we don't converse?

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    3. It has taken me a while to get back to you; I'm a single mom, working full time, with a lot of volunteer obligations and with a kid who has a lot of activities. This makes time for conversations about ethics and literature a luxury for me . . . as are sick days . . .

      There is a concept in the study of poetry, I don't recall the name of it, in which there is a sort of poetical conversation. So that knowing the context of a work gives the reader a fuller understanding. If you are reading Tennyson, for example, the work can be understood on its own, but will be a more robust reading if the reader has previously read Shakespeare. This is particularly true of modern poets, like Eliot or Merrill.

      I think that there is a similar sort of conversation among novelists. You can read AS as dystopian fiction but if you are taken with the scope of Rand's book, I would suggest that you also read Dostoyevsky and Hugo, to see how she borrows their forms and tries to refute their view of the human condition.

      And again, the followers (and this is the sense of the word acolyte I was using) of a writer can add a lot to the conversation. I'll let you do your own research on the ideas of her followers.

      I think I'll be much more interested in your ideas about the Dalai Lama.

      In Peace.

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    4. Rosesmama, I don't agree with DarlaMae that you have a problem, just strong reactions like I do. I believe if you stopped in for a bite to eat and a lively conversation with Molly you would thoroughly enjoy yourself like I do. Molly is a thinker who likes to explore ideas and review where others stand in their ideas. She combines a curious mix of strong opinion & open mindedness that makes for good company. I can see where she would identify with parts of AS because she and her husband enjoy a challenge and are amazingly self-sufficient. But she is sincere in her claim of being apolitical, and is not just a Randian for the sake of following. -- Mark V.

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  21. Molly, I really appreciate your writing, your intelligence, your tone, your blog.

    I recently was at a playgroup there was a new mama there who brought up the topics of vaccines and(SOMEHOW?!?!) didn't know the topic of vaccines was so heated. I called her later that day to offer her some encouragement about what became a very heated/tense conversation when she hadn't expected something she had brought up pretty off the cuff to go in a very negative direction. That phone call left me realizing that the vast majority of people would rather focus on similarities rather than differences and that sometimes, without knowing it, we step out of a circle we thought we were standing in the middle of. When in a group of kindred spirits that step can be taken lightly and gently.

    As a fellow sensitive person I'd like you to know I'm sending you some positive energy to overcome the critical words used in your space.

    Wishing you a wonderful fall weekend.

    xoxo, mandy

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  22. Sliced jicama! I'm going to try it. Also I like my Guac with Lime juice in lace of the lemon.

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  23. I must live under a rock, too, because while I have heard of Ayn Rand, and Atlas Shrugged, I did not realize she was the author of the book. Often, when people disregard someone, a book, a movie, it only makes me more curious to meet, read, or see it. Also, I never listen to the critics, especially when they bash a particular book or movie-- it's just their opinion, after all, and we may have differing views and interests, but sadly, people listen to those critics then books and movies fail because of those bashes. Just by reading all the comments in this and the previous post, it makes me want to run out and check out Atlas Shrugged. I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy in 3 days, I'm ready for something heavy now. And yes, I agree, The Stand is a must-read. Excellent book. One of King's best.

    I've been sitting in your living room for 4 or 5 years now, and you've always made me feel welcome and I leave happy. I've often wished we were neighbors, we seem to have a lot of shared interests, but we're different enough to keep things interesting! Your enthusiasm for crossfit and paleo eating and life in general, is catching. It was because of your blog and others, that helped me get chickens of my own, seeing that they're really easy to raise and one step closer to independent living. I'm isolated where I live, with very few friends that mostly live far away, so blogs I visit take their places. You are inspiring and I hope you are able to brush off those negative comments and harden that shell of yours. But not too hard! Sensitivity is good, in small amounts. Thanks for being you.

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  24. With a similar upbringing (and a similar spirit) I often feel like when you tell your story, you tell a little of mine too. Keep writing, keep sharing, and keep hardening that shell. Our world is better for it.

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  25. oooook. Well I'm working my way through posts backwards, so I don't know what specific book/author you are talking about YET. BUT I am much like you, where the smallest acidic comment makes my heart hurt. It makes my belly feel weird. but it also makes me feel proud, independent, like a maverick (Palin style, baby).

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