Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dirty Books

This week marks a momentous moment in the journey of my year. This week I began Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. This book is the 100th book that I’ve read in 2014. Yes, I am a word nerd. Yes, there are disclaimers to this measurement. I will list them now:

First, I have “read” more than 100 books since January 1st, 2014. But I consider these 100 to be “pleasure reading” rather than reading for work, albeit those lines blur more than Robin Thicke blurs grammatical rules. Secondly, I count audiobooks as Reading. If you have a problem with that we can deal with you later.

From this centipedial composite of stories, I have picked what I consider to be the Top Ten Dirtiest Books. In no particular order, I will list them now…

Darcy’s top ten dirty books from her first 100 books of 2014:
10. The Poisonwood Bible. Barbara Kingsolver
9. The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer. Siddhartha Mukherjee
8. Lean in. Sheryl Sandburg
7. Room. Emma Donoghue
6. What Maisie Knew. Henry James.
5. The Help. Kathryn Stockett
4. Hyperbole and a Half. Allie Brosh
3. Summer House with Swimming Pool. Herman Koch
2. Notes of a Native Son. James Baldwin
1. Fun Home. Alison Bechdel

By dirty books I mean books that, in one way or another, bring me back to my originary and beloved definition of the difference between “soil” and “dirt.” Soil is when it’s outside, dirt is when it’s inside.
These Dirty Books deal with the beauty, paradoxes and traumas (mostly traumas) that result from bringing something (or someone) from the periphery to the center.

For The Help it is that famous special pie. That pie that shouldna never ever been put in one’s mouth. That pie of protest and revenge for being told ‘You don’t belong inside. You are dirty.’ Or for The Emperor of All Maladies, it is writing the biography of the thing, the terrible awful, of when bodies go rogue and make inside what Should Not Be. 

Lean In tells women to Be The Dirt, put yourself at the center of the boardroom where you’ve been told you don’t belong. Sure, there might be consequences, but you can negotiate your way out of being untouchable. Just make sure you have a supportive partner, and have a career in corporate America—not on the bottom two thirds of the employment ladder…. Notes of A Native Son would put Lean In on the same shelf with Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I think I would literally do that had I not borrowed Lean In from the library…..

The Poisonwood Bible has the dirt of the destructive and abusive colonial projects, and those sins of the fathers dirty a family. Fun Home gets to the core of the family dirt—when your family treats you like dirt, the thing that doesn’t belong, the thing that needs to be cleaned. What Maisie Knew shows us when a family treats a child like a dirty bomb. Hyperbole and a Half shows us treating The Self like that. 

Summer House With Swimming Pool and Room are different. They tackle containment of that which threatens to return to the periphery, in one way or another, for better or worse.

Sigh. Do you have any idea how hard it is to have good ethics and avoid spoilers!?! There’s so much more to say about all of these books. Read them all! Even Lean In!

There are many “obvious” choices that I kept off the top ten list. By obvious choices, I mean books dripping with soil, like: Kimball’s The Dirty Life, Mud Season, Second Nature, Dissident Gardens,…. Or the other side of the dirty, dripping coin: Savage Love, Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man, My Horizontal Life, The Abstinence Teacher…..

Point is, writing that celebrates interfaces is writing I want to celebrate. Furthermore, I want to celebrate reading a crap load of awesome books. 

Here's #101:

For a complete list of what I’ve read this year, check out my board on pinterest. I won't remember unless I pin them!

I got 9/10 one of these books from my library. Support Libraries, whether they catalog seeds or books!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dirty Feet

This weekend was the Washington County Cheese Tour. It is my FAVORITE weekend of the year! Better than Christmas. Five of the awesomest cheesemaking farms along the NY/VT border open their gates to the public. And O Lord. The cheese. The Goats. The Everything. 

First on the stop, Sweet Spring Farm, can only be described as Goat Disney Land. Walking up you see the stinky billy goats on your left, and then all the teeny, tiny, sweet as sugar kids. My knee got tongued by the most adorable young goat. (Shout out to Lush—bathe in Marizbain bubble bar, baby goats will lick your knee).
Kisses were given to the Mom-goats, cheeses were tasted (and purchased), the cave was peeped upon, and we trekked back out to the car. Feet were checked for goat droppings before entering the very clean vehicle.

There are middle things. Then the last stop, 3 Corner Hill Farm. If Sweet Hill Farm was Goat Disney Land, 3 Corner Hill Farm is Sheep and Lamb Disney Land. Only you have to wash your shoes before you enter. Meaning, one could unknowingly be bringing horrible parasites, diseases or other very bad things from Goat Disney Land to Sheep Disney Land. Not cool, man. Not cool. 

My only real associations with the importance of shoe-foot-washing comes from The Odyssey, and Mary Magdalene.

The Odyssey. This is my truncated version of what matters: In the Odyssey, the hero returns home in disguise, and is found out when Eurycleia washes his feet. Foot washing equals sign of respect, means of uncovering the truth and how all will be righted in Ithaca.

Mary Magdalene. Maundry, the Judeo-Christian practice of foot-washing, is a practice of blessing. The Mary Magdalene of art history class washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and her hair after he cured her of evil spirits. Foot washing equals a very serious thank you note. 

Whatever god there may be, strike me dead if you hear this rhetorical question in your head in Sarah Jessica Parker’s voice a la “Sex In The City laptop musings.” I can’t help but wonder if the whole practice of foot washing, from back in the day, wasn’t only religious, but a form of biosecurity?

Humans before *right now* might not have fully grasped the importance of hygiene and whatnot. But did farmers know that it was important to keep dangerous parasites, weed seeds and other unwanteds out of their soil? 

Biosecurity takes many forms. Washing your shoes before entering an organic farm helps protect the animals from parasites and diseases that you may have, unknowingly, been carrying around in the treads of your Steve Maddens, Keens, or otherwise sensible footwear. 

Might early representations of foot washing not only have been about blessing the person getting their mini-pedicures, but also about blessing the land? These are questions I don’t know the answer to. Nevertheless, I wonder if something about the horticultural role of foot washing in earlier times was lost along with other bits of wisdom.

(this is me cheating on my dog with a sweet goat.)

Sweet Spring Farm:

3 Corner Farm:

Lush Marzibain: