Select, Salivate, Read and Savor

I am an excellent reader. When I can’t think of what to write, then I just fuhgeddaboudit and read a book instead. I’ve actually become a bit of a book snob. Not snobby in the sense that I can only read “literature” or best sellers, or award winners, or that I even know what I’m talking about when it comes to books. No, I’m just snobby in the sense that I try only to select books that really interest me, because I find that reading for pleasure is still an effort for me.

I love to read, but it’s an effort? Sounds like a contradiction, so let me explain. I’m not the kind of person that sits down and reads for hours until I finish a book in the wee hours of the morning. I might as well just pop a sleeping pill and go to bed. There are few books that could truly keep me awake if I was tired, and I am always tired. I read in spurts, chapters here and there, always anxious about the next short block of time I can carve out just for reading. I sometimes read during my lunch hour, in the car at soccer practice, or before I go to bed at night. My progression through a book is a little like watching a soap opera, except that unlike watching soaps, eventually I do finish the stories.

This technique is known in scientific circles as SSRS. That’s no BS, truly. You can tell that’s no BS because there are no vowels in either SSRS or BS, so it must be true. It goes like this – SSRS – select, salivate (um, figuratively), read, and savor. After going through this process, then I rush to the book shelf to start over… SSRS. So exciting! Yeah, I really don’t get out so much…

It sounds hokey, but to me reading a book is a little like opening a door and stepping into a different reality … what’s behind door number one? Number two? Lots of little doors I have opened this year so far, fourteen to be exact. A modest accomplishment for some people, but I’m pretty sure it’s a record for me, and it’s still just October.

I try to finish every single book I start, so I definitely don’t want to select a stinker because I will feel compelled to read it anyway. After all, someone spent a year to write the dang thing, I should at least be willing to spend a few hours a week to read it. Not sure why I’m like that, maybe I don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings. Only a couple of times in my entire life have I started a book (meaning, a novel) that I didn’t finish, and deep down I felt a little guilty when I closed those books and decided to put them back on the shelf. One of the books was as dull as dry toast. I don’t remember a thing about it except reading words for about ten pages and suddenly thinking, I am reading this book but the story is missing. Then skipping back a few pages and trying to find the story. Forward ho again for twenty more pages, and then, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I’m so sorry, nameless author, I couldn’t finish your nameless storyless book. The other one, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Definitely a story here, but I couldn’t get past the first five pages. I attempted it because it is my friend Carrie’s favorite book (or one of them) and, of course, it’s a classic. I enjoy classic literature sometimes, but this one is more difficult than most. Either that, or I am not such an excellent reader after all. Or maybe I wasn’t in the mood to think so deeply.  Whatever, that book is a bi-atch! It still sits on my shelf, daring me to pick it up, and I will… someday.

So, check out the books I’ve read on the Just Books tab, if you wish. That tab holds a few of my excuses for not writing regular posts for my blog. There are about a million other excuses why I don’t post regularly, but that’s another blog post. Still, my blog tugs at me from time to time, when I ignore it for weeks on end. It is like a living being begging me for attention, not so different from Zoe bringing me a smelly sock. Write me, it says. No, I’m reading, I say. Then bite me, it says, but I just can’t listen to such negativity.

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Nuthin’ but words

I have finally done it. I have emptied out my brain. Gotten mired in the bog. Used up all my reserves. Let’s face it folks, I have the dreaded Blogger’s Block, and it’s difficult to move forward. I lose steam lately after the first couple of sentences. See, losing steam already, but I must forge ahead. My blog is withering.

Today my friends, the subject is nothing. My intent here is to get words on the screen, to prove to myself that I can do just that. Can I write 300 words about nothing? Yes, I think I can!!! Many people write something about nothing every day, so why shouldn’t I? I’ve already done that, you say? Touché.

In my defense, I never started this adventure to write something profound every day, er week, er whenever, and it appears that I have succeeded enormously in not doing that very thing. For an example of my fine work about nothing, see “Does This Make My Butt Look Big?” Interestingly, this benign, dumb little post continues to be the one with the highest readership. Seriously, not my best work, yet here I am referring to it. I guess people just can’t get enough of THAT question. I’ve even thought about removing THAT post, and I’m kind of sorry that I really wrote THAT one. I would lose most of my “by chance” readers, though. All those people who expend so much energy researching how butts are perceived. An important group of people for me, it turns out.

Speaking as someone who would love to write something more than a blog some day, I’m not exactly gaining ground on that particular goal. I have great dreams/ideas about what I’m going to write next, then when I have the time to sit down and write, a big fat nothing comes out. Why IS that? Do I not have a life? Actually, I have several lives, all contiguous. I meet myself coming and going, so no, it’s not that I don’t have a life.

Rather, my problem seems to be whether I can write 300 words about something sort of interesting. Is my life interesting? Incredibly so, at least to me. To others? Maybe, but the words just won’t flow right now. Keep checking back, though. My intentions are the best, and I hope to have something worthwhile to read soon-ish.

Squat

Anyone notice that I haven’t written squat lately?  Well, I haven’t written squat lately, and I haven’t written any other words either.  The ol’ blog is teetering towards irrelevance.  Hell, it tottered into irrelevance the day it began almost a year ago.  Do you ever notice that when some people’s blogiversaries roll around, they write a post like this … what the hell, my blog is a year old, and I’m doing this why???  Well, you’re reading another one.  Both of you.

I guess a better word would be extinction.  This blog is teetering towards extinction.  Going the way of the Black Rhino, the Mountain Gorilla, and the Short-tailed Albatross (all listed first on the Top Ten Most Endangered Species List, depending on which website you believe), albeit not so devastating.  So, hurry up and send in those donations, folks … maybe together we can Save Carla’s BlogJust teasing …

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What’s new that hasn’t already been thought of, hasn’t already been written, hasn’t already been read?  Not much.  Yet, here I am, rearranging words and waiting for inspiration to hit me between the eyes.  Until next time …  

The World Below by Sue Miller

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Sue Miller is a gifted storyteller who weaves believable characters into believable situations.  In this story, her protagonist, Catherine, is a woman who struggles to come to terms with her life by delving into her family’s history.  Catherine is a divorced mom with grown children who, upon inheriting her grandmother’s house, leaves her teaching job in California to return to her childhood home in Vermont.

Catherine spent many days of her childhood at her grandparent’s, and moved into their home when she was a teenager.  Her own mother had committed suicide after suffering for years from mental illness, and her father felt incapable of caring for her and her brother, so they moved in with their grandparents.  Upon Catherine’s inheritance of the property after an aunt’s death, she discovers her grandmother’s diary, and realizes her grandmother, Georgia, was a woman she never knew.

Georgia contracted tuberculosis as a teen and was sent to a sanitarium by the family doctor, as was the custom of the day.  Georgia fell in love with a boy, Seward, who was far more ill than she was with the disease, and the diary tells of their heart-wrenching romance within the confines of the sanitarium.  As teens do, they make plans for the future, Georgia knowing that Seward’s chances for survival are slim.

The family doctor taking care of Georgia decides she is well enough to return home.  His feelings for Georgia run deeper, and he asks her to marry him.   Georgia had kept her feelings for Seward a secret from the doctor (John), and John had his own secret that he had kept from her.  They marry and live a calm and outwardly happy life together, but as the diary spells out, underneath was a current of pain and tension.

Catherine discovers more about her mother’s mental illness through the diary, and brings to rest some of the pain associated with that period of her life.  She befriends an older man that becomes her constant companion, and envisions how she can make a new life in this place.  Ultimately, she struggles with whether or not she should stay in Vermont, or sell the home and move back to her life in California.

I read another Sue Miller book years ago, While I was Gone, and I like her writing style.  She writes about people dealing with their pain and how they cope.  Her characterization of Georgia and, in particular, Georgia’s time at the sanitarium, were compelling reading, and the predominant catalyst of this story.

Proximidad … indeed!

Yes, for me!!!!  Another surprise!  It’s a pretty award – The Charming Blog award – I got from my friend Delaney over at Delaney’s World.  Read the paragraph below – sums it up perfectly …

“This blog invests and believes, in ‘proximity’ [meaning, that blogging makes us ‘close’ – being close through proxy] “They are all charming blogs, and the majority of them aim to show the marvels of friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize, and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut, or that they propagate?”Then let’s try to give more attention to them! So with this prize we must deliver it to eight bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text.”

While I don’t have eight bloggers in my little world to pass this to, I can at least pass it to a couple.  What the above paragraph says to me is that we bloggers should encourage each other.  This keeping of a blog is not an easy thing, at least not for me.   Those that reach milestones and spend time entertaining, educating or just writing in a thoughtful manner for others, should be appreciated for their efforts.  I pass this award to the following blogs that I enjoy reading, and hope that these bloggers will continue to pass it on.

The only other two blogs I consistently check in on are Delaney’s World (http://delaney55.wordpress.com/) and Crone & Bear It (http://croneandbearit.wordpress.com/).  These ladies already have this award, but they deserve a double!

Cheers!

Well, whaddaya know!?!

Hey, check it out – someone likes my blog!  Delaney over at “Delaney’s World”  (http://delaney55.wordpress.com/) passed the award below to me.  Thank you, Delaney – I am flattered!  Thanks for checking in with my blog – and I suggest that my other friends check out Delaney’s blog also.  It will put a smile on your face!  The infamous chuckle of the day, great pictures, and thoughtful posts.  It’s all there! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to pass this award along to my good friend Char whose blog “Rambling is Therapeutic” (http://charmarie221.wordpress.com/) was the first blog I ever read on a regular basis.  She’s a great friend and, as a matter of fact, first suggested I start a blog.  To which I said … huh?   Anyway, awesome writing (insightful and humorous) on her blog.  Check it out!  Char – take this award and pass it on!

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Lyrical, poetic, heartfelt genius, and just plain telling it like it was are all words that I could use to describe my impression of this novel.  While not a long story, it is the deep and moving account of a black woman living in the Deep South in the 1930s.  While many in this country suffered during this bleak economic time, blacks suffered the most.  Social injustice, from the limited choices any black person could make, especially a black woman, in the 1930s, to the extreme poverty blacks endured, this book is a brave exposé of the times.  Published in 1937, Ms. Hurston wrote this book when blacks were considered unequal to whites, and all women were considered unequal to men.  Even black women suffered at the hands of black men during this time, as a black woman was considered the lowest of the low on the social ladder.  Ms. Hurston forgot to tell her protagonist, Janie Crawford, that she was a black woman.  She perceived herself to be a person, not only a black woman.

As a teenager, Janie dreamed that one day she would fall in love and marry a man who loved her in return.  Raised by her grandmother, she married early, at her grandmother’s insistence.  Afraid that after she died her grandaughter would be left alone without someone to care for her, she convinced Janie to marry Logan Killicks, an older, more settled, man that Janie did not love.  Janie expected that the love would come, but it didn’t.  When another man, Joe Starks, entered Janie’s life one day, Janie decided to run away with him and they married and started a new life together in Florida.  Joe was an educated man who helped build a new “black town” and soon became its mayor and the owner of the town’s only store.  Janie worked in the store every day, and longed to be a part of the life of the town.  While Joe took care of her, he kept her at arm’s length and wouldn’t allow her to socialize much with customers at the store.  After a number of years, Joe became ill and died, leaving Janie alone.

Before long, Janie began to enjoy her life.  She met Tea Cake at the store, and they became fast friends, playing games and fishing together.  A n’er-do-well, Tea Cake was younger than her, but he treated Janie kindly, and he became the love of her life.  To the astonishment of her friends, the two married and moved to the Florida Everglades, where crops were good, and he could earn more money.  At her insistence, they soon worked side-by-side picking crops.  Tea Cake was sometimes jealous of Janie, afraid that she was attracting the attention of other men.  They fought occasionally over his jealousy, and he once slapped Janie, but their love endured.

A devastating hurricane forever changed the course of Janie’s and Tea Cake’s lives.  I will go no further here, except to say that, while the storm was a pivotal moment in the story, they both survived it.  

Ms. Hurston was a great storyteller.  I didn’t feel that I was reading a book so much as I was listening to a story.  She gave her characters the musical cadence of the old Southern Negro dialect.  I could hear their voices in my head, and often read their words out loud to see if I could match the sound in my head.  The story is of a time and culture that I cannot relate to, but through Ms. Hurston’s story, I can empathize with.  It is an important work that sheds light on that segment of American history.  According to the foreward in the book, this story was dismissed during Ms. Hurston’s life as being inadequate, and as one critic wrote at the time, it “carries no theme, no message, no thought.”  This comment came from a prominent black writer of the times, Richard Wright, a prime example of how black women were commonly dismissed by black men at the time.

About 70 years later, along came Oprah … and Ms. Hurston finally received the acclaim she deserved.