Saturday, June 27, 2009

Heathcliff ... It's Me, Cathy

In the spring of 1986, I suppose, I developed a non-sexual crush on Kate Bush. She was beautiful, deep, poetic, and weird. Her music was intriguing and luring. Sickly sweet and irritating in turns, her voice was like none I had ever heard and I fell quickly into her charms. I listened to The Hounds of Love on a continuous loop for years. It lulled me into a dream-filled sleep and then slapped me awake over and over until I developed the erratic sleep pattern I still suffer today. I have literally hundreds of favorite songs by Kate Bush, including, of course, Wuthering Heights. I still have The Whole Story in regular rotation in my car and the haunting anthem is permanently stuck in my head.
But, strangely, I had never read the book.
I guess I thought I knew the story. I thought Heathcliff was a beautiful, dark, hero with an unmatched passion. A hero I would fall in love with on the wiley, windy moors of Wuthering Heights.
I most certainly did not!
Even when I imagined Heathcliff as absolutely beautiful and kept in mind his sorry beginnings in life, there was no denying: Heathcliff was a son-of-a-bitch in the cruelest sense of the word!
In fact, all of the characters were rather loathsome. Cathy was a self-centered egomaniac with a sharp tongue and rude demeanor and her husband a wimpy simpleton. There was so much deception, anger and abuse, I found myself wondering why anyone ever had the audacity to describe this book as a passionate love story.
However, setting all of that aside, there is no denying this is an amazingly written, haunting, intriguing, often humorous work of art. I found myself laughing out loud at Emily Bronte’s clever writing style and crisp dialog.
Wuthering Heights delves deeply into mental illness, physical and mental abuse and only very lightly on happiness and sanity. But, in the end, I feel the better person for having finally read it!
And I still have a crush on Kate Bush.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Darling Jim by Christian Moerk

I chose Darling Jim because it reminded me of Lady and the Tramp. You know? Jim Dear and Darling. It captured my attention!
And let me tell you, it kept my attention.....
Darling Jim (the novel) is a gruesome fairy tale, a twisted love story, a creepy mystery. It’s the story of a young man reading the stories of two young women, through their diaries found posthumously, who were telling the story of a charming, evil storyteller and his telling story.
It was well-written and compelling. It was chilling and amusing. Clever and cryptic.
I read a critical review of this book by one woman who couldn't relate to the way the females in these little Irish towns kept swooning over a character that she found rather irritating, a breathtakingly handsome stranger who tells horrific fairy tale-type stories of torture and revenge. While that woman found him a complete turnoff, it is not entirely unbelievable that one captivating character could take control of so many hearts and minds, it happens. Gary Gilmore, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy..... this is what makes it so frightening.
Beyond that, I found the characters to be quite real. They were flawed and imperfect, yet funny and authentic. I wasn’t honestly expecting Lady and the Tramp, you know, but I was pleasantly surprised by this new Darling Jim.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Close Your Eyes and Dream of ...........

Johnny on the Spot:
Because I usually have terrifying nightmares that leave me shaking and unable to sleep, it was an absolute pleasure this morning to wake up giggling after a full six hours of sleep because of this dream:

It was like I was watching a Candid Camera-style television show. A man with a deep voice and a British accent narrated the dream in a sweet storyteller manner like the dead woman on Desperate Housewives. There were a few modern portable restrooms on a busy city street near a construction site. I got the feeling it was around 5:00pm and people were just leaving their jobs and rushing home or to meet friends. Whenever someone would enter one of the porta-potties, a mechanical voice would tell them, “We are closing in 15 seconds. Exit now or be locked in until 8:00am.” A split second later, the patron would hear a buzz and an audible LOCK! Outside the porta-potties, passersby could hear - and this is what cracked me up - people yelling from inside, “NO!” or “Are you freaking kidding me?!” And, most ironically, “SHHHHHHHHHH******TTTTTTTTT!”
(It was really the “duh” look on the passersby that made me giggle!)

Which reminds me of another dream I had, years ago, that ended similarly.

Shortly after arriving at Torrejon Air Base in Spain, nearly everyone would get what my dad used to call The Green Apple Quick Step..... or, you know, (whisper) diarrhea. It was inevitable which is what made it funny to most of us. One night I was dreaming a strange little dream that looked like an old western film. I was the cameraman. The scene was an old west mining town, eerily silent. There was an energy in the dead air like it was about 20 minutes before the shoot out at the OK Corral and a tumbleweed blew across the street from one abandoned saloon to its sister on the other side. The camera began to pan back. Something like black curtains appeared on either side of the screen. As I panned back even further, I realized it was actually the legs of a gunslinger in full stance, ready for action. His back was to me. He was wearing road weary black pants and dusty black boots and two very shiny black guns on either hip. His hands were resting on each of the pistols and as I dared pan back just a little more, he made a quick 180 degree turn to face me, crouched, ready to shoot and said, “You better wake up before you sh*t the bed!”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happiness is Rolling on Your Back with a Friend!

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

My grandparents had a beautiful set of green leather bound books. There were 25 books in the collection. I know because they are on my bookshelves and I just counted them. I have not read all of them. I was supposed to wait until I was Lori’s age. Lori lived next door to my grandparents and since she was older than me, unfortunately, I was never able to reach “Lori’s age”. The books are gorgeous and I still really want to read them ... all of them: Dante, Cervantes, Tennyson to Whitman, Emerson, Dana ... Collins to Fitzgerald, Chaucer to Gray ... the list goes on and on....
Frankly, I am afraid to touch them. They are so beautiful. Like a collection of precious dolls meant to be admired and enjoyed simply because they share my space.
My grandmother read to me from Aesop, Grimm and Andersen when I was seven years old. I loved the dark, frightening stories and learned my life lessons the hard way, just as those children did.
I have nightmares.
But I still love a good fairy tale. I love a good fantasy. I love a dark narration.
I thought I would love The Story Sisters. Alice Hoffman wrote this book with a matter-of-fact prose that seemed nearly vague most of the time. However, I enjoyed the fact that she slipped in and out of a mythical, magical world and the real one. It was dark and tragic and, I suppose, somewhat romantic. But more than anything else, I found it to be excruciatingly sad. Minus the extremes, I could relate to many of the characters, which is what kept me reading into the wee hours of the night, but I cried through the whole thing.
And I am tired of weeping.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox

None of us knows exactly what life will hand us. So, it becomes not so much a matter of what happens to us as much as it matters how we handle it. And, some people don't even have a whole lot of control over that. If your brain is producing chemicals that make you depressed or angry, you may only have a certain amount of control over that, as well.
But, most of us do have choices in life. Personally, I like to surround myself with people who choose to be happy! I suffer bouts of sadness, of course, but I believe I choose to be a happy person and I am thankful that I actually have that choice.
I like doing things that make me happy! For me, it has always been music, books, friends, travel and the world around me ..... these are choices that I have and that I make. I have always loved movies, as well. I will go to movies alone, and actually enjoy doing so. I don't particularly enjoy joining a theatre packed with crazed teenagers, but beyond that, I will partake in the whole movie experience - including a Hefty bag full of popcorn and a keg of soda pop - and will laugh and cry and cheer openly! I have absolutely no qualms about any of that. I will, however, choose films and show times that allow me to avoid the aforementioned wild teenagers .... and lovers. I do try to avoid lovers.
I was stationed in Spain in the mid-eighties and there certainly was plenty for a nineteen year old girl to do there! If I left the base, that is. On Torrejon Air Base, you could listen to music, drink, bowl, watch one television channel sans secular commercials or you could see the one and only film they happened to show. Usually, we knew very little about the films unless, of course, they had music videos associated with them. For example, we knew everything about Top Gun prior to ever seeing the movie because there were so many hit songs and accompanying music videos.
One day, I decided to see the movie du jour about which I knew absolutely nothing. The theatre was packed! I was finding myself becoming increasingly irritated because I have crowd issues and was thankful to find a seat on the aisle, only having to sit next to one stranger.
The movie was Back to the Future and I knew NOTHING about it going in. But I happily went on an amazing, hysterical journey through time with the little spitfire, Michael J. Fox! And I became a lifelong fan!
Always Looking Up, beyond the obvious short joke, is a brilliant book describing the last decade of Michael J. Fox's life so far. Life after a successful film and television career and into a role he most certainly didn't choose. The self-described incurable optimist is an amazing, clever writer and an extremely humble, gracious,respectful man. While he most certainly didn't wake up one day and think, "Perhaps Parkinson's Disease is the one thing missing in my extremely full life", he did understand that his role as a PD patient and well-loved celebrity put him in a position to do something positive about it!
Inspired by friends and peers such as Lance Armstrong, Christopher Reeve and Muhammad Ali, Michael J. Fox created the Michael J. Fox Foundation which has used it's money to take control of Parkinson's research like few other foundations have ever done.
Michael J. Fox writes with humor and compassion and explains not only his disease, but the channels he is taking to cure it. Yes, CURE IT!
This book is broken into four aspects of his life: Work, Politics, Faith and Family. His is a real life. His family is much like our own. His outlook, questions, humility ... all weave together beautifully to make him even more of a hero, in my opinion, than ever before. He's fighting a real fight!
Having lost a sister to ALS, conducting my own little armchair research into stem cell treatments and understanding the human condition has become a daily pastime for me. Michael J. Fox takes it to a much higher level, of course. He is small in stature, but he is an amazingly big person, a big dreamer, a big doer, an incredible optimist and .... beyond everything else, he teaches us the most important lesson of all: It's okay to hope!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

This idea was given to me by my dear friend, Bev. I was so taken with the concept that I asked if I could play too! And she insisted!! Although I am tempted to post all photos of my dog, Wednesday, the actual purpose is to find or take a picture (I think I will only use my own photographs) that inspires you, leaves you speechless, in awe of the beauty of nature, any thing that makes you think. I would love to see what you don't have to say every Wednesday! And let me know what you think of my Wordless Wednesdays, too! And don't be shocked if my dog, Wednesday, shows up eventually!