Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Life, it's for the half dead too.

A friend and I decided at a New Year's Eve party that this year we'd make one evening each week into a dinner and movie event. Part of the reason for doing so was we realized how easy it is to stay home, curl up in our pj's, and eat whatever we wanted while slipping a rental movie into the CD player. When you live alone that becomes a problem because the dog really doesn't have any input into the movie, even if you ask really intelligent questions. My friend is older than me, but much more active. She's just what I need to get me out of my quiet existence. Because, well hell, that has just become boring.

Going out keeps me fresh. It makes me feel like a grown-up. I dress up a little, (even put on make-up) dine out, watch people, hear other conversations. Plus, I get to share. We discuss our thoughts on the movie afterward, along with other items in the news or our own neighborhood. Neither one of us is into gossip, which in itself is refreshing. For too many years now I've played the role of a recluse. I know, I know, it suits that whole writer personna. But I'm not really a writer, I'm a fake. I haven't published anything in years and the way publishing is going, I might never have that chance again. And half the time I'm playing around on email, internet, and blogs, instead of working on a manuscript. But that's going to stop. I'm re-energized. The latest manuscript is being looked at daily. While I haven't yet made huge inroads there are a few slightly trodden pathways emerging, and I'm getting into a rythm again. The pulse of the story has a nice steady beat. And it's darker, much darker than I've ever written before.

Back to that New Year's Eve party. I realized I'd become anti-social. I used to love going out. I liked people. Then my life began to change and disappointments seemed larger than they actually were. I withdrew. Now I didn't do that consciously, and I can't even pinpoint exactly when it started to happen. But looking back I can see that somewhere along the way I became a bit jaded, and the more I hid the more I stayed hidden.

So this being a new decade, it required some new thinking. Look out world. I'm breaking out. Ha ha. It might seem to you that it's only in a small way, this going to a movie thing. But remember, when you add that to my end of the last decade decisions to rejoin an old critique partner, to join a ladies gym, and to join a book club, well, hell. Maybe there's hope for me yet! I might get back into the swing of living instead of just existing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Love Things that Happen in Three's.

Except death, of course. Three friends lost loved ones last month. It's so hard to find the words to bring comfort, to somehow make it better, easier. I get tongue tied over death because the words seem trite, like I'm quoting from a sympathy card or something. It's easy to send a card, food, flowers, or a good book, but it's never the same as giving a big fat warm hug, just holding your friend and rubbing circles on their back as you squeeze them tight. I'm convinced there just are no words.

Anyway, on to more pleasant things in threes. I read three wonderful books in the last month. The first was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford. It's a wonderful story that looks at the cruelties of war and how we regard others. It reflects back on Seattle during World War II, and the internment of Japanese/Americans, and follows the journey of a a twelve year old Chinese/American boy and his first love, a second generation Japanese girl who is cruelly parted from him. I won't discuss it further because we may elect to read this one for our next bookclub, and I'd hate to leave spoilers.

In my opinion: If you are interested in indepth stories of humankind, what makes us tick, and a touch of American history, then this is a must. It will leave you all warm and tingly.

The second book was from one of my all time favorites: Barbara O'Neal/Samuels.
The Secret of Everything. I adore Barbara's voice and her characters are always so well drawn. Tess is involved in a tragic accident when leading a hiking tour. She heals as much as possible at her father's beach hut, but still blames herself for her friend's death. Knowing she has to get back to work, she takes on research of Las Ladrones, high in the New Mexico mountains as the next adventure tour for the company, but she has a history there that dates back to her childhood. Part of her quest is to unravel mysteries of her past, come to a better understanding of her roots and her own strange upbringing, and get the tours restarted. She meets up with Vince, a widower with three young girls, who has his own past tragedy. Together they embrace the home and the family both have ached to find.

In my opinion: A must read for anyone who loves a happily ever after. And the recipes. Do not read this one while hungry. : )

The third book was Echoes, by Maeve Binchy. I used to love reading Ms. Binchy's stories in the eighties then for some reason she slipped off my radar. I think I got all caught up with writing and went in several different directions with that, plus I was raising kids...hmmm? not really certain why she slipped away from my sweaty little fingers, but all I can say is this was a treasure. A real find. A real keeper book.

First let me say it was the cover that caught my attention. It almost leaped off the shelf and fell into my arms. The yellow gold and deep red, the red polka dot skirt, the old fashioned red shoes...just gorgeous. Then I read the back cover copy and was sold. I don't think I even turned to the first page in the bookstore, which is my norm. I trusted my memory of her voice. And what a beautiful voice it is. Ms. Binchy is an Irish author. Her voice is full of the heart, and love, and whimsy of her native country. Nobody does Ireland better. The story covers a young girl's life from age eleven through about twenty-one. It's more than a family saga, kind of a small town saga because the townsfolk feature in each phase of the girl's growing up years, and even the bad guys are loveable. : )

In my opinion: if you love stories of small towns, of family, of real life that makes you laugh one moment and tear up the next, this story is for you. It's a treasure of a story that will leave you thinking about it for weeks to come.

Happy reading!