Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Jane Austen and Me – Part 2
This post is about how Jane Austen and I are different. It was a much easier post to write.
(1) Tea and scones. I don’t actually know that Jane liked this. I just presume it of all British people. In actuality, the concept of high tea – drinking tea and eating cakes and scones – wasn’t invented until the Victorian Period, well after Austen’s time, when tea was cheaper and the British ere by custom drinking alcohol a lot less and needed something to replace it with. It’s not that I dislike stones, I just prefer other pastries. And as for tea, I don’t like drinking things that might burn me. Seems silly.
(2) Dancing – Jane, despite being rather sickly at times, loved to dance. It was required of people in her social class to not only dance but to learn long, complicated dances that could last up to 15 minutes and were like square dances without the help of a guy in a ten-gallon hat telling you what move was next. Spending hours being tutored on all of these dances was part of Regency life. Meanwhile, not only do women not dance with or in front of men in Orthodox Judaism because it’s too seductive, but when we do dance (at weddings, mostly), it’s a lot of running in circles. There’s a couple variations to the running in circles bit, but only the person who teaches Israeli dance at camp remembers them. Everyone else just runs until we get tired/dizzy.
(3) Writing long letters to relatives detailing every events in our lives. This was a form of entertainment – both writing and reading the letters whiled away the hours, and the upper classes had a lot of hours to while away. Meanwhile, my emails to my mom and are downright mono-symbolic.
(4) Dying at 41. Man, I hope I don’t do this. Jane, I’m not with you on this one.
Monday, August 15, 2011
There are some ways in which we are similar:
(1) We both tried/try very hard to sustain ourselves on our writing. Jane made a good amount of money for most of her books, until (amusingly) she self-published one of them when the publishing company didn’t give her a high enough advance, and on that particular one (it wasn’t Emma or Pride and Prejudice) she actually lost money. But by the end of her life she had 600 pounds to leave her sister Cassandra, which was enough for Cassandra, who wasn’t married, to live on. Meanwhile, I won’t state what my numbers are, but I am barely squeaking by on a combination of my writing and my two part-time jobs.
(2) We both never married. Jane probably would have if the right man had come along, because who wouldn’t? But nobody did, or nobody she could marry (we don’t really know what happened between her and Tom LeFroy, but it’s definitely been exaggerated). Or we don’t really know if she had other infatuations, because Cassandra burned the majority of her letters after Jane died. Meanwhile, I’ll marry if the right man comes along, but that has happened yet. And being an Orthodox Jew, my circle of potential mates isn’t much bigger than hers, though I am less likely to die in childbirth.
(3) We both have/had auto-immune disorders. Jane had Addison’s Disease, which today is treated with cortisone shots but in her time was untreatable but not deadly. (She died of something else, we don’t know what) I have Crohn’s Disease, which is also treated with cortisone, but there are now additional treatments like Remicade and surgery. One of my favorite charities to give to, in honor of Jane, is the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, which does general research on a host of diseases and disorders affecting the immune system. I recommend this charity, by the way, not just because it’s a charity, but because immunology is one of the few areas in medicine where we’re constantly making huge strides (as opposed to cancer, where we’ve more or less hit a wall). Today diseases are treated, but in the next generation they will probably be cured. We basically have a cure for Crohn’s now – Remicade – which wasn’t available when I was diagnosed in 1996, it just doesn’t work perfectly on everyone and we don’t know how to use it, but the next generation of biologics of it will knock it out.
Next time, I’ll discuss ways that we are different – Well, not all of them. The internet only has so much space in it.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
(This post is for Austen Extravagantaza)
I really didn't know what to put here. I asked Meredith, who's hosting this event, and she said, "Anything." I thought about what was currently going on in my head, then decided to hone the topic a little down to "Jane Austen related" because who wants a discussion of various ways to give your wife a divorce in second-century Middle East? Me, that's who, but you are probably more interested in Mr. Darcy (though you can actually write the bill of divorce on a cow's horn and give the wife the cow*). I am a bad Austenite, not constantly filling my head with all things Austen.
By the way, the Rabbis eventually ruled that the cow shouldn't be living. It's not really a "bill" of divorce if it's on a living creature. (What? This Mishnah Gittin is interesting!)
Anyway, I was asked to speak not because I'm good at talking about Jane Austen (clearly not) but because I wrote a bunch of books. Ten of them. Four have been published, plus one free eBook of short stories related to the fourth. There's a lot of awesome books out there, so I thought I should mention some features to help me pick me out of a lineup.
14 Things That Are Distinguishing Features About My Books
(1) Swords, swords, swords.
(3) The first book is the Kama Sutra one. (No it isn’t. That was a mistake on the publisher’s part to label that book as such. ARGH.)
(4) Samurai. And there’s a ninja in book 8, but you don’t know he’s a ninja until he’s dead, because he’s a good ninja.
(5) Pretty sure nobody else has swung from Darcy’s chandelier in other books. Could be wrong about that.
(6) All Kitty all the time! Psych – I spend like, no time with her. Seriously, I don’t know what to do with her. She’s like the Skim Milk version of Lydia.
(7) Monkey! As in, there is one. And his name is Monkey. It turns out Mr. Bingley is not very creative when it comes to names.
(8) The Alter Rebbe (zt”l) puts in an appearance. Also, contains the phrase “zt”l,” which I had to explain to my publisher was not random words on a keyboard, but the English version of the Hebrew acronym for “May the Memory of the Righteous Be a Blessing.”)
(9) Dialogue in Japanese, French, Spanish, Tibetan, and Romanian. Probably none of it correct. Some of the English isn’t correct, either.
(10) Some vampires show up but it isn’t really a big deal.
(11) Having almost every child’s name start with a G actually just a Regency Period standard, not an expression of my hatred for the reader’s ability to keep track of people.
( (12) Copious references to synagogue members, dermatology patients of my father, and Fanfiction.net readers who bought my books in the acknowledgments.
(13) Guest appearances by: George III, George IV, Edward IV, Napoleon, Pope Pius IX, 11th Dalai Lama, Shogun Tokugawa Ienari, Emperor Ninkō of Japan, and Saint Sebaldus of Bavaria.
(14) In the last book, everyone gets eaten by dinosaurs. You think I'm joking, but I'm not.
(*) Mishnah Masecta Gittin, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3