Roadrunner Musings

A Virtual Colloquy - What are YOU reading?!

The School System is Oppressive for a Reason

School system feels oppressive quote from book and book cover on desert background.

“Marianne’s classmates all seem to like school so much and find it normal. To dress in the same uniform every day, to comply at all times with arbitrary rules, to be scrutinized and monitored for misbehavior, this is normal to them. They have no sense of the school as an oppressive environment.”

Normal People by Sally Rooney

The school system we have is not the best way to create a responsible and independent population.

Speaking out against the public school system is unpopular, I know. I usually get even fewer likes when I speak my mind here. But hear me out, please. What we are currently doing (and have been for nearly 100 years) isn’t working. That old cliché definition of insanity comes to mind.

I pulled this quote out because it reminded me of my own experience in high school and my feeling when I talk to parents that send their kids to school. In fact, it reminds me of how I feel when I talk to kids in high school, or that have just left it.

I was good at the system. I was able to work my way through public school in the 80’s and get good grades, make some friends, and start university. But I felt like I as living a lie, walking among zombies that didn’t realize there was a world outside what we were being forced to live until we were 18 or completed so many credits. Why was I different?

I don’t believe controlling other people from birth to death is the way we create order out of chaos. I’ve heard time and time again, if you don’t teach a child that you are bigger and stronger than them, the authority in all things, while they are small and fragile, they’ll walk all over you when they get into their teens and are bigger than you, capable of walking away from your control. It sounds so perverse.

It’s the same with schools today. I’ve heard parents tell me that you need to put your children in daycare early so that they learn to fit in to the system once they get to school age. Children that have not been corralled from early age have a harder time settling into the mold of school days.

A young person, fresh out of high school at 18 years old, scoffed at the fact that my son (her boyfriend) must have been too lazy to finish high school. He didn’t get the same education as she did and would probably never fully understand the system of merely making good grades and completing checklists instead of engaging in and learning from the material and teachers he came across at college. He was 16 and taking the same classes as her, helping her with her math assignments and holding a job.

When people see us, our children, and our lifestyle, some say, “Sure, that’s fine for you but other people need the control of an authority.” Do they? Or have they been trained from birth to believe that they do?

Some people have met us and have told me, “Wow. Your sons are so happy and intelligent. They seem like full-fledged people, not teenagers.” Their next comment is usually that we must have had a strong hand on them, kept them out of trouble, restricted them from video games and cellphones. It was the opposite. They have grown up being respected as individuals, with their own needs and wants, the ultimate authority of themselves, even when we thought they were crazy. We worked together to make living together comfortable. They grew up treating us the same way.

It wasn’t easy. Every decision, every change, every stage of life has to be thought about and evaluated to some degree. Negotiation so that everyone’s needs are met is impossible sometimes. And sometimes we failed miserably. We were learning too, not just the kids. Ultimately, now that the youngest is leaving home, I think it worked out well overall, more positive than negative.

The quote above, Marianne’s feeling about the school environment she is in, it’s legitimate. Raising large groups of people in controlled environments where they have no choice but to attend and obey is oppressive. It brainwashes people into believing that they are not capable of living outside a set of parameters set by someone else.

And that, my friends, is bullshit. We can all live exactly as we please. That doesn’t mean I have to live next to you or with you and agree with you, but it does mean you have the right and the ability to make your own choices, ones that serve you and your needs alone.

Stop raising humans as herd animals and start treating them as independent sentient beings from the moment they are born and we’ll begin to see civilization flourish in ways you can’t imagine.


If you’d like to go back and read my thoughts on this book from the beginning, start at my post New Read: Normal People.

You can find “Normal People” by Sally Rooney on Amazon.

My monthly newsletter highlights my immediate after-thoughts about the books I read the previous month. You can sign up for that awesome email at the link on the right or by hopping over to my Autobibliography page. Once you opt-in, you’ll receive one email a month only available to my email followers…mmm…so exclusive!

“The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age”

The Pleasures of Reading book on a bookshelf background.

“The Pleasures of Reading…”

The title, “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age,” sounds so deliciously pretentious! I love it!

I take a lot of pleasure in reading but I haven’t taken a “literature” class since public high school and I never had any intention of taking one again. Yes, I’m a bit of a book snob. THAT book is trash, THIS one is a classic. But honestly, I know what one reads is just a matter of personal taste. I’m 40 pages into this and now I want to take an actual class and see what happens. It’s on my to-do list to look a free one up online.

You’re going to laugh, but I’m not much of a deep reader. I choose to read what I like. If I pick up something and I find it too hard to read or unenjoyable for some reason, I put it down. There are just too many books out there to read. That doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad book or completely useless, though. It just isn’t what I need at the moment. I have started to read things that drove me bonkers and only to come back to them years later and devoured them. Like that guy you knew in high school and fought with daily, but you meet years later and fall in love…shit…too many romance novels lately!

This book is one of those more difficult reads. It has big words! I have to pay closer attention to understand and much of what he’s talking about is beyond me. That’s why I want to take a class. I feel like I understand what I’m reading intuitively but I’d like to understand on a more academic level. I’d like to see what they see and know the historical and philosophical significance of the more serious books that I dive into.

“Literary language is an intricate, inventively designed vehicle for setting the mind in restless pleasing motion, which in the best of cases may give us a kind of experiential knowledge relevant to our lives outside of reading.”

The Pleasures of reading in an ideological age by robert alter

Sometimes we read to get information, like newspapers, nonfiction, magazine articles, and manuals. Sometimes we read to escape from life for a bit; “dime store” novels and pulp fiction. But other times we read to experience a world, a relationship, a feeling outside our own. We use what we learn in those hours of lives glimpsed through the pages of a book in our own lives.

That’s why we read, Charlie Brown!


Find “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age” on Amazon and read along with me. If you do, be sure to comment so I know you’re out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

If you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it on my Autobibliography page!

Will the negative effects of social media destroy civilization?

Social media quote from Ready Player Two on book cover background.
The second of only two posts on this book!

“A world where people don’t go outside and touch each other anymore? Where everyone sleeps their lives away while reality collapses all around them?
Sometimes I think my parents are better off. They don’t have to live in this utopia you’ve all created.”

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

I honestly (most of the time) don’t believe the negative effects of social media and the internet will destroy the world as we know it, but I was in a bleak mood when I wrote this, so prepare yourselves. I’m not always this pessimistic, but lately, I’ve felt overwhelmed. I try to assume positive intent. I attempt to see things from a different perspective. But man…when everywhere I look (and I’ve been off social media for over a month now, mostly just looking at the physical world around me) all I see are zombies. I want to scream…WAKE UP!

Maybe I need some new friends? A new location? One of my sons has been out in the world recently. His reports come back positive for the most part. My youngest leaves for university in a few weeks and I’m looking forward to hearing his perspective of a whole new world.

Can we overcome the negative side of social media and use it in positive ways?

I can’t think of how to put this into words. This line just killed me. In fact, the whole book was overwhelmingly sad to me and not because I’m a technology hater. I love the internet. I loved social media, until the past couple of years. I see so much potential, so much to create with it.

But it seems the Ready Player Two characters are only reliving the past through virtual reality, escaping into old movies and music, instead of using the new medium to create and collaborate. I’d hoped the second book would build on the first. I’d hoped that the first book had taught humanity a lesson and that the second would be creative in showing us how we could build on this new technology in innovative and exciting ways. I wanted to see Lazarus soar to the skies with his new wings, with the lesson learned about flying too close to the sun.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe the internet is what ends up destroying us. We just can’t have nice things.


Have you read Ready Player Tw0? Did you read Ready Player One? Or watch the movie? Comment and let me know what you think!

Read my previous post about Ready Player Two, Reality is Not the Curated Fragments of Life in the Media.

If you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it on my Autobibliography page!

Reality is Not The Curated Fragments of Life in the Media

Curated fragments of life quote with book cover background.

“Now instead of following their favorite celebrity on social media, ONI users could become their favorite celebrity for a few minutes each day. Exist inside their skin. Live short, heavily curated fragments of far more glamourous lives.”

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Let’s put an emphasis on “heavily curated fragments” and talk about that for a few paragraphs, shall we?

In the “Earl,” that’s what they call IRL (in real life) in the book, we all project a curated image as we move through our daily lives. At work, at the grocery store, at the playground with other parents, etc., people mostly see what we want them to see. We don’t walk around with our life story on our sleeves for everyone to see.

The more time we spend with people though, the more they know us and our secrets, the things we try to keep from the public eye. We don’t hide them for nefarious reasons. We’re not hidden criminals…I hope…mostly. We all have a public and a private image.

Inevitably, those small quirks that make us unique, or those bad habits we try to hide from public view, slip out into the Earl from time to time. We react badly to an offense. Our children thrash our last nerve. A rough day at the office turns into road rage on the way home, the middle finger goes up, harsh words are spoken. It happens. But we quickly return to our persona.

At home, with our closest family and friends, we are a different person. Our guard goes down and we are more ourselves.

On the internet, social media especially? How much more so? How many different personalities do have? How many “heavily curated fragments” of ourselves do we present? It depends on the individual. Celebrities, politicians, people that depend on public favor, I’m sure have a lot of work to do maintaining an image that doesn’t do them damage.

You can’t please everyone all the time.

Humans are flawed. We make mistakes. We ruin things and create messes with people. That doesn’t make us bad people, but when you’re trying to sell an image…well…it’s best to curate one that is appetizing to as many people as possible.

But what about us “normal”? I’m not selling an image to my family and friends. Or am I? This blog is one curated image that I project to the public. It’s certainly not all of me on the page. There are other sides of me that are my private thoughts, though it may seem like you’re getting all of me.

And escaping from dull reality into fiction isn’t a new thing. We used to tell stories, then read books, listen to the radio, watch movies, and then tv.  We have always wondered what someone else’s life would be like and assumed that it would be better or more exciting than our own. It usually isn’t.

What if we could see our own lives curated in the same way? Would we be jealous of ourselves and wish to escape into that life?


Have you read Ready Player Tw0? Did you read Ready Player One? Or watch the movie? Comment and let me know what you think!

If you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it HERE!

Knowing You Have Consciousness – What Awareness Really Is

Knowing Consciousness quote with book cover background.
Last post from this glorious little book!

“The Buddha is one awakened to identity not with the body but with the knower of the body, nor with the thought but the knower of the thoughts, that is to say, with consciousness; knowing, furthermore, that his value derives from his power to radiate consciousness – as the value of a lightbulb derives from its power to radiate light.”

Myths to Live By” by Joseph Campbell

You could have seen the “lightbulb” go on over my head when I read that sentence. It hit me that hard.

“Awareness” is quite the buzzword these days, but I don’t think it’s for the right reasons.

It’s more important to people to be “aware” of whatever atrocities they were told by their leaders they were supposed to be outraged by. It’s hip to be “aware” of what we do or do not possess, how we present ourselves, or what image we promote with our online presence, i.e., being sure we have a washable mask on when we take our selfies or putting a temporary frame around our social media profile declaring our political allegiances.

But is that the “awareness” that counts?

Personally, I think it’s far more important to be self-aware, not in a “Do I look fat in this outfit?” or “Does my comment come off as racist?” kind of way, but more like this description of the Buddha. We should become aware of our consciousness, that we are not a body or a thought, but that we have a body and thoughts.

When we achieve this kind of awareness, our demeanor changes. We radiate that consciousness toward the world around us. When we find the inner peace that comes from the awareness of our consciousness, we suddenly increase in value to this world. We are not simply decorating the space with our presence but creating more for the room and those within our reach.

A dead lightbulb, or one supplied with no power, does nothing but take up space. Add power and suddenly it lights up the room, illuminating what’s in and making life easier for everyone that can see it. That could be each and every one of us. When we find the thing that powers us, we add value to the world around us. That is what “awareness” really is, consciousness of who we are.

Want to read this book? You can get it on Amazon HERE.
Read more of my thoughts about quotes from this book:
Are Our Cultural Differences Becoming Less Important?
Women Are Equal in Nature and Need as Men, Not the “Same As”
Using Words: Is the Art of Communication Lost

“The 28 Mansions of the Moon”

The 28 Mansions of the Moon book cover on a Joshua Tree.

This book is special because it is the first I’ve purchased and read because I followed the author on Instagram. I loved his posts and then saw that he had a book out…had to get it. It doesn’t take much for me to want to read a book, that’s for certain!

I’m thirty pages in today and enjoying it immensely. It’s different, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to read more and maybe learn more about what it’s based on.

You can find the book on Amazon here and follow the author on Instagram here.

“The 28 Mansions of the Moon” is also my first new read of 2021.

This year I plan on doing something different and read one book at a time for a while. I used to have two books going because one was usually a slow, difficult read that I could only focus on for about twenty minutes before my brain hurt. I may pick up one of those reads again and need to have two books going at once, but for now let’s see how this goes!

Cup of tea and a book journal.
Afternoon Tea

I have a brand-new book journal for the occasion.

Believe it or not, I found this lovely little book over a year ago in a shop in San Diego. I picked up and thought…no, I’ll just lose it before I need it…but it’s SO cute! Yep. I bought it and now I finally get to use it. Yay for keeping track of things!

Happy New Year Everyone!

If you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it HERE!

A Great Big Christmas Wish For YOU!

Merry Christmas on a lighted tinsel tree background.
Our new “Big Shiny Aluminum Christmas Tree” is here to greet you!

A Christmas Wish, my friends, at the end of the weirdest year of our collective lives.

I’m struggling this morning, attempting to put into meaningful words the feelings that are swirling around in my heart. It’s the job of poets and philosophers, ones far more talented than I am.

Who am I to even try? But everyone’s experience is simply another pixel. When we pull back to see the big picture, I don’t want there to be a piece missing, so I write, I read, I talk, I watch, I journal. I live another day, experience it fully and enjoy it. I attempt to make someone else smile, someone’s life a little easier, let someone know they are loved or at least seen.

Hopefully, my piece of the picture will be a bright one that catches your eye or highlights a dark spot.

Winter holidays are about moving through the darkest, coldest part of the year knowing that the spring is on its way back to us and then summer…the wheel keeps turning.

And, as good friend likes to remind me, then you die.

You know that weird week that comes between Christmas and New Year’s? I’m taking it off from blogging. I’ll be thinking and writing, considering what changes to make in the new year, and what I want to get done. I’m thinking of it as an extended (at home) meditation retreat. A kind of reboot. I’m getting older…shudders…and I feel like I’m running out of time.

My Christmas wish for you is that you love what you have in front of you, make cookies (even those Pillsbury cut and bake ones), wrap a silly gift, kiss a loved one, remember the past fondly, look forward to the future, and know that you are loved.

I know you love reading these posts every day, but don’t panic. I’ll be back. I promise.

New Read: The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness book cover on a desert background.

If there’s a “Art of Happiness,”
I want to practice it!

While culling through the pile of books a friend’s sudden move out of the state left me with, “The Art of Happiness” was one of the first books I picked up. Buddhism has come up in my studies this year quite often, so I’m leaning more into it. This book is not about Buddhism exactly, more about what a trained psychologist got out of meeting and talking with the Dalai Lama, but it should be interesting.

Personally, I’m less interested in the spiritual aspects of Buddhism than the cultural and personal peace aspects, but can you separate them? Christians say you can’t live a life of Christian peace without fully understanding and accepting Jesus as your personal savior, but I’ve found that you can learn a lot about human nature and how to live a good life by deep reading and study of the Bible. I’m sure one could say the same about any religion.

I’m curious to know more about the teachings of Buddhism. The blurb on the back of the book is right, they look so peaceful and happy. I want to know how they got there.


You can find The Art of Happiness at Thriftbooks. If you read it, let me know what you think!

You’ll find posts about my thoughts that were spurred by the reading of this book on the following pages.
Finding Balance in the Study of Eastern and Western Philosophy
Is the Purpose of Life the Pursuit of Happiness?

And, as always, if you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it on my Autobibliography page!

Using Words: Is the Art of Communication Lost?

The art of communication and the legend of the Tower of Babel quote on a desert background.

“…the world is faced in fact with the problems mythologically represented in the Bible legend of the builders of the Tower of Babel, when the Lord so confused men’s tongues that they had to abandon the building of their secular city and scatter…
Only there is no room today into which we might scatter away from each other; and just there, of course, is the rub and special problem of our age.”

Myths to Live By” by Joseph Campbell

And, again, this was written fifty years ago, before the 24-hour news cycle, before the internet, before social media.

Is the art of communication lost?

Time and time again I wonder, with all the new ways to communicate, why do we still not understand each other? Lately it feels as though we aren’t even trying.

Words are tricky things. They don’t always mean the same thing to everyone. Even if we’re both speaking English, we come from different backgrounds, different context gives words different meanings. Throw in a translation from a different language, some emotional words, a few cultural references, and you have a mess.

Public discourse as a communication tool?

The internet is proving to be no place to communicate with other humans, especially in an open forum with a large group of strangers. You may as well stand on the floor of New York Stock Exchange and start asking questions.

Communication isn’t about simply speaking our minds, telling our side of the story, writing out our version of events, our wants and needs. It’s more about listening and asking questions. With so many people making noise, it’s hard to hear what’s being said, even when we get a chance to ask.

What about personal communication?

Admittedly, I’ve never been a good listener. I forget to ask questions. When I do remember, I’m often an impatient listener. I’m not hearing what’s being said and thinking about it, I’m listening for words that trigger my own thoughts and remembrances. I rarely walk away from a conversation knowing more about people than that they seemed to like my stories or not.

I want to do better. Something I’m currently reading is helping me with one simple idea: have compassion. Walking through this world remembering that everyone I see is a human being with the same basic wants and needs as I do: to be seen and heard.

We can’t work together until we can communicate effectively. And we can’t communicate effectively until we can have compassion for the people around us. That communication starts with one person stopping to listen, ask questions, and hear the human behind the words.


Want to read this book? You can get it on Amazon HERE.
Read more of my thoughts about quotes from this book:
Are Our Cultural Differences Becoming Less Important?
Women Are Equal in Nature and Need as Men, Not the “Same As”

Women Are Equal in Nature and Need as Men, Not the “Same As”

Mythic woman quote on desert background.

“The woman is immediately mythic in herself and is experienced as such, not only as the source and giver of life, but also of the magic of her touch and presence.”

Myths to Live By” by Joseph Campbell

Women are Equal, Not the Same

I know it’s an unpopular idea, but I believe it’s true. Most of the problems of modern civilization can be traced back to the loss of the memory of who we are. Feminism has gotten us lost attempting to be the same as men, instead of equal in nature and need as a man. Instead of balancing the scales with male and female attributes and contributions, we have crowded all into one cup and knocked the whole natural system out of whack.

All Animals Have Evolved (or Created)
as Male and Female

We should not feel subjugated by the differences between the sexes but empowered. A goddess is not a lesser form of a god, but an equal power that balances out another. Two is always stronger than one. And three? Well…let’s not get into that right now.

We have so forgotten our true mythic nature that we even tear down other women when we feel they are stepping out of the line. Feminists tear down traditionalists. Career women tear down housewives. Mothers tear down the intentionally childless. Lesbians tear down straight women. Chosen sex against birth sex. The list goes on and on, and the violence against the other goes both ways in all instances.

Instead of seeing our fellow goddesses as they are, we see them as competitors, a threat to our own very personal choices. Why?

Have we completely forgotten who we are? Unadorned and untutored, we are capable of so much power. We can heal with a touch, move others with a look. For crying out loud, we can bring forth other humans and feed them! And yet, here we are making ourselves small.

No one took our power away. At some point we began to give it away and continue to do so. We have taught each succeeding generation that they have no power by attacking and ridiculing any one of us that attempts to take that power back.

How do we take that power back? It cannot be by belittling men, attempting to be like them, removing them from our lives, or treating them as an enemy. As a society, I’m not sure where we could start. I only know that whatever we’re doing right now isn’t working, at least not for me.

For me, I’ve started with accepting myself as a natural being, one that has flaws and weakness that can also be strengths. I’m getting older and not hiding it. I’m a bit chubby, I’ve had children and it shows. That’s a good thing. I’m a sexual being and that’s ok, even if my parents and children are uncomfortable with that. I’ve started reading myths about the feminine from different cultures across time. I want to learn how other cultures in the past have interpreted the feminine. How do they differ? How can it shape my thinking and improve my self-image? I wish I had started this journey earlier, but maybe I did, unconsciously at first.

I’ll add one more thing before I go. I don’t hate men. In fact, I love them, possibly a little too much. I do wish more men (and women) could respect a powerfully feminine woman. What’s my definition of a powerful woman? One that knows her natural power, secure in who she is, she gives to and takes from the world around her in ways no one else can. She intentionally chooses her path, takes her time, and enjoys what comes of it fully. Other people’s opinions matter to her, but not at the cost of losing herself. She accepts others just as they are, as she does herself. She loves passionately, sings loudly, dances wildly, and stands her ground.

I am woman. I am the other side of the balance of life. And I will not be quiet about it.


Want to read this book? You can get it on Amazon HERE.
Read more of my thoughts about quotes from this book:
Are Our Cultural Differences Becoming Less Important?

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