The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, November 7, 2022

Chasing Tarzan: A Trip Back in Time


I recently read the memoir Chasing Tarzan. It made me recall many moments in my own youth. I wasn't bullied in the same way the author was, but I am still traumatized when it comes to playing softball. (The kids would all group behind the backstop and yell "Swing!" and I still managed to avoid contact with the ball every time. I learned that if I didn't do my homework, I had to stay in at recess, which meant I wouldn't get made fun of on the ball field.)

The author was a foreign exchange student through AFS, and spent a year in New Zealand. I had a French sister--thanks to AFS--for a year, and just like it changed Forster's life, it also changed Virginie's life and my life. I fell in love with France (just like my son and my daughter and granddaughter), and Virginie has flown back to the US several times. (We crammed a minivan with friends, a niece, a daughter and granddaughter and saw the Grand Canyon for the first time several years ago. It was better than grand.) 

Catherine Forster chronicles her journey with incredible detail. Part of the book are funny, and parts are poignant.

I'm putting my copy of Chasing Tarzan on my bookshelf in my classroom. Kids today deal with so much, and Catherine Forster's book might help light their way as they navigate their teen years.

(By the way, as an author, I love the cover. The title really stands out, and the vines add interest and makes the reader's eyes trail down to the title and the author's name.)

Book Summary

In the 1960s, a relentless school bully makes Catherine’s life a living hell. She retreats inward, relying on a rich fantasy life––swinging through the jungle wrapped in Tarzan’s protective arms––and fervent prayers to a God she does not trust. She fasts until she feels faint, she ties a rough rope around her waist as penance, hoping God will see her worthy of His help. 

As the second of eight children, Catherine is Mommy’s little helper, and like Mommy, Catherine is overwhelmed. The bullying and the adult responsibilities together foment her anger. She starts smacking her siblings, and becomes her younger sister’s nemesis. Spooked by who she is becoming, Catherine vows to escape for real, before she hurts someone—or herself.

Catherine finds salvation in a high school exchange program: new town, new school, new family, new persona. A passport celebrity. In New Zealand, nobody knows her history or her fears. Except for her Kiwi “mum,” who sees through Catherine’s façade and pulls her out from her inner safe-house. Exposed, her sense of self implodes. Catherine must finally rethink who she is.

Publisher: WiDo Publishing (July 2022)

ISBN-10: 1947966618

ISBN-13: 978-1947966611


Print length: 278 pages

Purchase a copy of Chasing Tarzan on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also add this to your

GoodReads reading list.

About the Author

Catherine Forster honed her powers of observation early on, and later applied them to artistic endeavors. Although it didn’t happen overnight, she discovered that seeing and hearing a bit more than the average person can be beneficial. As an artist, her work has exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States and abroad. Her experimental films have won accolades and awards in more than thirty international film festivals, from Sao Paulo to Berlin, Los Angeles to Rome, London to Romania. Through her work, she explores the dynamics of girlhood, notions of identity, and the role technology plays in our relationship with nature. In her capacity as an independent curator, she founded LiveBox, an eight-year project that introduced new media arts to communities at a time when few new what media arts was. For the past four years she has been a member of the curatorial team for the Experiments In Cinema Film Festival held annually in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received a Masters of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Masters of Business from the London Business School, and a fellowship in writing from the Vermont Studio Center. She is also included in the Brooklyn Art Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

You can follow her on her website as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  

Monday, July 11, 2022

My Sordid Affair

This is a busy summer. I'm in the middle of teaching my graduate class--coteaching, actually. (My teaching partner is my better half, and makes the month-long course a joy.) Two friends and I are embarking on a big (huge for us) undertaking involving storytelling. And it's hot.

Last week it got to 101 degrees. In St. Louis, that goes hand in hand with a humidity level of 127%. That might be an exaggeration, but only a slight one. In this part of the country, folks get to take shower as soon as they walk out the door--the sweat immediately starts dripping down every crook and crevice on our midwestern bodies.

Summertime... and the livin' is easy. And sweaty. 

Despite the heat, I've decided to make the season even hotter. Taylor Sheridan and I are having a hot and heavy love affair.

                                                          image by 19dulce91 via Pixabay

Why Taylor Sheridan? Why have I fallen in love with this smooth writin' man? Check out my post on the Muffin... 

... and keep cool. This sweltering weather--around here--could stay with us into September.


Thursday, June 23, 2022

A Long Time Gone

 It's been a long time since I last posted. Last week, I saw the Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks) in concert here in St. Louis. My post's title reminded me of one of their songs, Long Time Gone.

Right now I'm knee-deep into a challenging project: creating a channel of podcasts for women. I have two partners in crime crazy, and we thought the response would be slow... But just a couple of days ago we sent out an email, asking former Listen to Your Mother-St. Louis writers if they'd like to be involved...

And we already have more than 100 enthusiastic yeses. A. Maz. Ing.

I wrote about this big dream on WOW's The Muffin. If you'd like more information about it, I wrote a second post. I certainly hope that when it's up and running, you'll check us out... and subscribe.

What challenging thing have you faced recently? 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The Agony of Not-Terrible Defeat

 SOL #21 (should be #27) See below to see what the Slice of Life challenge is.

Last night I went to a work trivia night. I was the anchor of the table. In this case, I was the member that would be holding back the rest of the group. I suck at trivia.

We had predict what score we'd make, in case there was a tie for first  some miracle happened  unicorns pranced around our table, pigs started flying and God parted the Red Sea (again) and gave us the answers for each round.

I (with hopefulness) suggested 4.

Who was the lead singer of Pearl Jam? I knew the answer, but not last night. 

Who was the lead singer of Poison? I knew it was Bret something (I'd watched Celebrity Apprentice years ago when he was a contestant) but I couldn't come up with his last name last night.

Who wrote Of Mice and Men... Who wrote Catcher in the Rye... What

was the name of the movie about the two Olympic figure skaters (we only saw a photo of the two actors D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly)... I knew those answers. How exciting that I could help out occasionally.

Somehow, we ended up 6th or 7th, out of 25, which is not terribly shabby. Of course, the night was full of laughter, food, and teasing...

Saturday, March 26, 2022

What a Difference a Day (or Two) Makes

 SOL #20 (should be #26)

Earlier this week: exhaustion. Pressure. Regret. (I was finishing my report cards a little past my principal's deadline, and had two nights were sleep was just an appetizer.)

Today: joy. Hope. Energy. (I plan on doing a better job of keeping up with my paperwork... but you know the saying about "man makes plans..." )

I can hear the gods laugh as I type this.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Death By Procrastination

SOL #19 (should be 22) 

She was a vibrant person, so full of life... except around report card time. Being buried under work that she should have kept up with, she breathed her last breath, and uttered her last words:                       

I'll try to do better next time.

And the gods answered, "We'll see. You say that every quarter."