Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

My niece is extremely competitive. She knows it and will readily admit it. Her husband’s coworker loaned him a book to read and while reading it, my niece felt compelled to read over his shoulder. Racing him! Of course, she won ... she always wins, but in the process, she read a pretty good book which she recommended to me.
Granted, this is a fairly cheesy novel, written in an adolescent style making it seem as if it were geared toward lonely teenage girls ... think Pretty Woman meets Little House on the Prairie.
The message was beautiful, however, and the story kept me going back even when I knew what was coming next or felt irritation at the stubbornness of the characters.
Although when I was seventeen I was into vampires and ghost stories, this actually would have been an excellent book for me to have read.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What's too painful to remember ....

My 25th High School reunion is quickly approaching, so it is no surprise that I have been taking grueling trips down memory lane lately. Although we had a lot of great laughs, I honestly think high school was just one big embarrassment for me. I was never real popular with the fellas, let’s be honest, but for a few months during my 16th year, I actually did have a boyfriend. And I liked him long after he stopped liking me, which made for additional, painful high school drama.
Like most teen aged girls, the thought of being caught in public with my mother was a nightmare to say the least, so I don’t honestly remember how I came to be at the grocery store with mine one fine spring day. And I don’t remember why we had my dad’s Chevy Blazer with the over sized side mirrors affixed so my dad could see the pop up camper trailing behind. Thankfully, the camper was no longer attached, but the mirrors were still there to reflect my misery.
My mother shopped like we lived on the prairie and only made it into the mercantile once or twice a year. I don’t know why she thought she had 15 daughters living in our house instead of two, but grocery shopping was certainly a bulk ordeal for her.
My “ex” boyfriend worked at Hy-Vee loading groceries into the vehicles of the various shoppers, and it was just my luck that he was there to load our colossal purchase. As I tried to sink deeper and deeper into the pleather seats, Boyfriend loaded our groceries making humorous commentary along the way. He tossed two huge bags of dog food into the back of the truck, “Looks like you gotta coupla dogs ...” That really irritated me because he’d been to our house several times and he knew we had dogs! He was just being charming and how dare he do that when I was dying?!
What was completely, foolishly lost on me was the fact that he was actually paying attention to our purchases.
Paying. Attention!
So it was with absolute, shocking, excruciating horror when, as we drove away, I heard him call, “Wait!! You forgot these!!” And I died a tragic death as I looked into the big screen mirror to see Boyfriend holding up a giant steamer trunk of adult feminine protection!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

their eyes were watching god by Zora Neale Hurston

Very often, when Rain rolls in and makes himself at home on my deck furniture, and Gloom creeps under the door demanding my undivided attention, I seek shelter in the pages of a book. And then little Miss Sunshine tells me her remarkable tales of all she’s seen on this big blue marble. She sends whispers of Truth to touch my skin and the magical wings of Fiction to whip the air around me.
And sometimes, in that bewitching frenzy of words and imagination, I meet a character who stays with me a lifetime.
Janie Crawford quickly made her way to the top of that very long list!
And Zora Neale Hurston, her creator, found her way there, too.
Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of the most amazing books I have read in a very long time. I received such warm pleasure from the author’s delightful writing style. Her clever balance between the rough Southern/Caribbean dialog and her poetic story-telling left my copy of the book dog-eared and weathered. I often stopped to smile at the heavens while reading her brilliant descriptions and Janie’s profound musings ... and more than one friend was forced to hear me read excerpts out loud.
Not only is this an important work of fiction, delving into issues of race, class, prejudice, jealously, and most importantly, love, but it is also - very simply - a wonderful adventure story!
Miz Janie is a woman I would want to come sit on my porch and tell me stories until we both collapsed into a pool of tears thunderously churning with waves of laughter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Love Story

I caught a little bug on my last plane ride and have been feeling ill and uncomfortable for nearly a week. Last night I really wanted to get a good night's sleep, so I took Tylenol PM and popped "Love Story" into my laptop. So, with dopey eyelids and the lulling notes of Bach and Mozart, I watched a film that came out the year I turned five. My mother and grandmother loved this movie so we had the soundtrack playing on a continuous loop on the hi fi when I was little, and I remember watching it on television at some point in my early childhood. Tears refilled my eyes as I watched Oliver and Jenny fall in love all over again, but I really had to chuckle before I fell asleep at the memory of a conversation I once had with my grandma, who apparently had just seen the film.
Me: I'm sorry, Grandma.
Gram: Love means never having to say you're sorry.
Me: But I am sorry.
Gram: But love means you don't ever have to say you're sorry.
Me: But what if I feel sorry?
Gram: Love means you don't have to say it.
Me: But what if I want to say it?
Gram: When you love someone and they love you, you don't have to say "I'm sorry."
Me: But what if you really are sorry?
Gram: Someone who loves you would know and understand and you wouldn't have to say it.
Me: But, wouldn't they know that I want to say it?
Gram: But it's not necessary. That's what love is.
Me: But I want to tell them that I really am sorry.
Gram: Love means never having to say it.
Me: Isn't saying "I'm sorry" a lot easier than saying "Love means never having to say you're sorry"?
Gram: Go outside and play.
Me: ... I'm sorry.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

I've been reading a lot of really heavy stuff lately and have been feeling depressed and weary. I wanted to read something light and funny.
So I chose The Virgin Suicides.
I absolutely adored Middlesex and this author's style, so I knew I wanted to read his first novel, The Virgin Suicides, and now seemed like a good time. It is an easy read, undoubtedly, albeit rather maudlin. Jeffrey Eugenides definitely has an amazing way with words and can make me feel at home in situations that are completely unnatural to me. That is true talent. I appreciate his dark humor and interesting outlooks.
The Virgin Suicides doesn't really tell us anything new ... it doesn't solve any problems... but, somehow, I feel better for having read it. We will never know what goes on in the minds of others. No matter how much they share with us. No matter the stories they tell us or the songs they sing ... we can never know someone else's deepest thoughts. We can only know our own (and even that is up for debate, truth be told). We don't ever really know what goes on behind closed doors, but this storyteller ... this unknown "we" ... let us know how the little fingerprints the Lisbon girls left on their neighborhood affected them. Their whole lives. And I was glad to have shared a very small taste.