Tag Archives: thomas jefferson the art of power

Parked at TJ’s

I blame Thomas Jefferson.

It’s probably the only time in my life I’ll get to say that–I’m no Aaron Burr, after all. But I do blame him. Him and his long-winded, sere, and scholarly biographer John Meacham. Because of them I will be unprepared for book club tonight. For, due to the great density, length and–let’s face it–arduousness of “The Art of Power,” Meacham’s new biography of TJ, I was unable to finish it in time to re-read the Cleopatra biography that my club will be discussing tonight. So, even though I have read the latter book before, and  vaguely remember the plot of the Egyptian Queen’s life, I will remain mostly silent as others discuss with lively intensity the minute details of each chapter. When it comes to books I read four years–or even four months–ago, my memory makes a sieve look like an ironclad safe. If I can recall any specifics beyond Cleo’s affairs, her unusual nose, and some doubts about her snake-caused-suicide, it’ll be a miracle.

It wasn’t supposed to go like this. I got the Jefferson biography for Christmas. I should’ve been done with it weeks ago. But no. I have 75 pages to go. My brain is sapping out of my skull faster than water out of a leaking sippy cup. Motherhood does this to all of us. I, however, am clearly on the accelerated plan.

Having said all of that? There’s no way I’m canceling tonight. I don’t get out much. I’ll go, enjoy the excellent food, nod vaguely, encourage digressions, and look serious at the appropriate moments. Any incisive observations I’ll save for the next book. Whose name I can’t even remember. Something about the woods. Definitely no great historical figures involved, which might be a good thing. Their stories tend to run long.

For now? Back to Monitcello. I fear I will die there. Ah, for the temperate breezes of Alexandria!


Lest of the -Est

I should mention here what I neglected to say yesterday — when, as is so often the case, I was interrupted by my waking child before I could properly finish my post:

I truly, adamantly believe that, were there a competition for oldest functioning dishwasher, ours would win it. And this gives me some small sense of pride. I can tack few superlatives to the list of my accomplishments in life. I am certainly not the best mom, the most organized homemaker, or the most likely to be featured in her own reality TV show. Clearly–judging by my recent two-month disappearance– I am an unreliable blogger at best. I studied Latin for four years as an adult, yes, which could have rendered me the stay-at-home mom most adept at a dead language. Except that, three years later, I remember virtually nothing. The Latin I have at my command could fit on the side of a teabag. If you had a permanent marker. And a lot of patience.

Compared to Thomas Jefferson, then, I am pathetic. (Yes, I’m reading the biography. Sue me. Literarily speaking, I’m a lemming. And yes, I know that’s all a myth.) I do feel rather superior to his wife, though, who insisted, on her deathbed, that he never remarry. He was thirty-nine. A single father. It was a crappy move on her part. Still, “more selfless than Patty Jefferson” doesn’t get me to the top of any list worth being on. Plus, Patty sounds silly. Perhaps if her name had been Elspeth…

Anyway. “The owner of the oldest extant working dishwasher?” This is something I can be proud of.

You have to take it where you can get it. So, even if we had the money? Screw the Bosch. Who needs excellence when you can have a world record?