Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Book Thief, A Job Well Done, and Pruitt-Igoe

There was was a severe weather warning that covered most of the Midwest this weekend. We cancelled plans to go out of town and waited for weather that never came. We barely got a sprinkle, which for my plants is sad news indeed (since I don't water from the house until summer). Having seen photos from areas that were in the path of the storm though, we are very fortunate that it passed us over.

Since we weren't going out of town, I was able to catch up on some reading. I finally finished The Book Thief on Saturday morning. This was another book from the Phenomenally Indecisive Book Club hosted on the Pancakes & French Fries blog. I found it difficult to want to pick it up and read, and so it took a long time (18 days!) to get through it. I would put it off every day, but once I finally did start reading I would enjoy what I read. The story definitely picked up once Max was introduced. I would venture to say I enjoyed his separate stories more so than the story they were introduced within. I also liked that it was telling the story of Nazi Germany from the point of view of the average/poor German family. It’s easy (for me anyway) to forget that war leaves its marks on both sides – and often times, even the side that “started it” isn’t unanimous in believing it necessary.
I didn’t care for the way most of the side stories were told though. It seemed like the author was trying to force emotion into the story. I also didn’t care for some of the descriptions given by Death (the narrator) – but that’s merely a personal preference. The lyrical-styled descriptions just fell flat for me.
In then end, I enjoyed the overall story and the characters. I gave it 3/5 stars on Goodreads.

Sunday, I woke up at 7am from the fitful night of non-sleep that I've come to expect on Saturday nights. Every Sunday as I get ready to go to church, I look into the dark bags under my eyes and wonder if I'll be able to stay focused on my job. I operate the light and sound boards for the two services and rehearsals. I was trained in March and then started out April on my own. I have forgotten to do something in every service since I started. It's never been anything huge - more than likely some of the things I forgot aren't even noticeable to the congregation - but I notice and leave feeling dejected for a bit.
This Sunday, however, went excellent! I received "good job" type comments from four congregants (one of which plays bass sometimes and knows what to listen for). I also got acknowledged by three of the musicians and the minister. It felt great to have done a good job and that feeling was topped off with all the gratitude given!

I ended the weekend watching a movie with Sweetie. We had purchased discount gift certs to a movie theater in town for the anniversary of my brother & his wife. They ended up not being able to come before the gift certs expired so Sweetie and I are using them. We will see Hunger Games sometime before Thursday and watched The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tonight. (Trailer below followed by my thoughts on the movie) It sparked some good conversation with Sweetie while we wandered Crown Center and window shopped the closed stores.

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth is a documentary about the housing projects (specifically Pruitt-Igoe) that sprung up post-WWII in St. Louis, MO. It illustrated the ideas, successes and failures of the times through interviews of tenants from that time, as well as narration voice-over with footage from that era. A few things I took from the interviews:

  • The tenants who moved in when it was new had fond memories of living there - even though they were still there as it dissolved into crime, drugs, and ill-repair. They had already created a sense of community, of togetherness, and I feel it was because of this that they were able to see the good in it outweighing the bad.
  • The tenants who remembered thinking along the lines of "Why did we have to live this way/here?" tended to resonate with the bad of Pruitt-Igoe. On the flip side, the tenants who remembered thinking things like, "I just thought that's they way all black people lived" or "I just thought that was the way it was for everyone" tended to resonate with the good of Pruitt-Igoe. I found that very interesting, and I would love to know if these recollections correlate with having moved into Pruitt-Igoe when it was newly constructed versus after it had already begun to decay.
  • People value nice things - even if they don't own them. Had St. Louis planned more effectively for how to maintain the building in the event rent income wasn't sufficient, they may have been able to keep it in nice shape. I'm not saying I think the blame of Pruitt-Igoe's fall lands on the city of St. Louis, but definitely a portion of it. 

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