Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

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Gothic Fiction Turns Steam Punk in this Gem

You heard me right, my friends. I could not help but see this gothic fiction made into a movie with Will Smith as Rupert. I’m imagining a combination of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Wild Wild West here, complete with flying machines and tunnels through mountains to bring all the riches of the kingdom to port.

gothic fiction

This blog typically isn’t about the story as much as what it brings to mind. Life skills, relationships, parenting, politics, history, philosophy, all come into play as I write from quotes that catch my attention. In a fiction read, things run a bit little different, especially with my final thoughts on the book. I try not to give too much away. I don’t want to ruin it for you, so read with caution. If you’re one that doesn’t want to hear anything about the story other than what’s given in the title and inside cover, maybe this is the post to skip.

Short version: I loved this book. It was surprisingly easy to read for a book written over 100 years ago. And the story…oh my heart…beautiful. If you love Dracula and/or H.G. Wells’ style sci-fi, this is a great read. Now…stop reading right here if you don’t want to know more. You’ve been warned!

It’s been a while since I zoomed through a book this quickly; eleven hours of reading in five days. The old cliché comes to mind, “I couldn’t put it down!”

What I thought, based on the author, the title, and the cover art, would be gothic fiction, turned into an H.G. Wells style sci-fi novel about halfway through and I was thrilled to death with the effect. It was beautiful.

Back to that cover art for a moment. I don’t really think it does the book justice. Who decides these things?

The first half was exactly what I expected to be reading in gothic fiction. Who was this mysterious shrouded woman that came only in the night? Why is she sleeping in a clear crypt in the church during the day? Why did his uncle send him there? Did he know about this? What’s going on?

I won’t tell you. You’ll have to read to find out.

But about halfway through the book changes, you find out the reasons and then it goes into the founding and building of a nation, political alliances, and the creation of an air force (yes, in 1909, a few years after the Wright Brother’s got off the ground).

The setting of this gothic fiction is the Balkans and there’s much talk about keeping the Turks out and alliances with Britain, Austria being upset by her neighbors, etc. It was written just before the start of the first World War, so the influence of the political climate is definitely there. It would have made the book even better if I knew more details about that era. I’m not very well-versed in it, but I have far more knowledge than I did coming out of college when I believed that World War II and the Nazi’s just popped out of nowhere.

One complaint, though. I think he could have ended the story one hundred pages earlier. I don’t think we really needed to get into the details of the new kingdom. It got tedious. But maybe if you read it back when it was published you wouldn’t have thought so. It reflected much of what was going on in Europe at the time. I’d like to read some commentary on this book, if I can find it, to know more.

This is another book that I’m glad I stumbled across. And it wouldn’t have been found if I hadn’t been browsing physical books. The organic way to find books (and movies) just doesn’t happen for me via the internet. THIS is something that needs be fixed before I can embrace a hermitage fully!

A side note before I go: I’ve made one big change in my reading habits this year, I’ve started taking far more notes while I read. In the past I’ve found myself devouring a book only to discover that I can’t remember much of the story once I finish reading. To fix that, my reading notebook is filled with quick summaries of what I read the past hour, story notes.

This is my fourth book doing this, and it’s really helping. Once I finish reading, I tally up how long it took me to read it, and then scan over my notes. It feels much more cemented in my mind and it’s much easier to write my final thoughts to you. The real test will be to see how long the details of the story will stay in my mind. When someone asks me, “Hey, this looks interesting. What’s it about?” Maybe I’ll be able to say more than, “I loved it!”

Hop back to “Stoker’s The Lady of the Shroud” for more posts inspired by this book.

Much Needed Advice from the Past

I had an extra hour to read yesterday afternoon after my long walk at Mission Creek Preserve. It was a beautiful day for it; warm, with clouds spilling over the mountains in the west, giving us some shade as we went along. Some yellow flowers are starting to poke through, green vines beginning creep up through the brush and soft blades of grass in every sunny spot.

There’s something about a long walk that gets people talking about things they otherwise wouldn’t find the time for. It creates a mental space for the deeper conversations. I know I’ve written about that before…ahh, here’s one, “Our Time is Not Infinite – Go For a Walk.”

advice from the past

Three hours of walking in the sun made me ready for a cup of tea and an hour snuggled quietly on the couch while my husband finished installing the laminate flooring in the entry way. He didn’t need my help.

“It was apropos of my saying that there is a danger of its own kind in extreme poverty. A young man might know too much want. She answered me: ’True! That is so! But there is a danger that overrides it;’ and after a time went on: ‘It is better not to know wants than not to know want!’” The Lady of the Shroud by Bram Stoker

This took me a while to understand, but it’s true. Extremes are the issue here. Extreme poverty causes humans to go to any length to get their basic needs met. They become selfish, hard, and cruel, hurting others and ultimately themselves. It’s almost impossible to escape it. And to not know want at all creates similar traits. The ultra-rich become spoiled, thinking everyone around them is theirs to do with as they will. They cannot see outside their own circumstances.

Each of us is much poorer or richer than someone else in the world. It’s something we could all remember.

For a moment I was thrown by “better not to know wants that not to know want.” But it dawned on me after another reading. It’s ok to be denied some things you want. It builds character and helps you understand that not everything is yours for the taking, better than not knowing want at all.

That doesn’t mean we deny those around us what we could give to make them happy for the sake of teaching a lesson. It means we should not worry ourselves too much when we can’t give them something they want. I’m thinking of raising children specifically, which is what they were speaking of in the book.

“My last word to you is, Be bold and honest, and fear not. Most things – even kingship – somewhere may now and again be won by the sword. A brave heart and a strong arm may go far. But whatever is so won cannot be held by merely the sword. Justice alone can hold in the long run. Where men trust they will follow, and the rank and file of people want to follow, not to lead. If it be your fortune to lead, be bold. Be wary, if you will exercise any other facilities that may aid or guard. Shrink from nothing. Avoid nothing that is honorable in itself. Take responsibility when such present itself. What other shrink from, accept. That is to be great in what world, little or big, you move. Fear nothing, no matter what kind danger may be or whence it came. The only real way to meet danger is to despise it – except with your brains. Meet it in the gate, not the hall.” The Lady of the Shroud by Bram Stoker

That’s a long list of brilliant advice for anyone coming of age and moving out into the world. Strength needs be balanced with justice.

And “Where men trust they will follow, and the rank and file of people want to follow, not to lead.” I think we have forgotten this in our own time of independence and equal rights. Humans are social animals. We want to be part of the family and the community, in peace and safety. It’s far easier for one to live in a group than alone. But without trust, we simply cannot follow, shouldn’t follow.

Speaking for myself, the past ten years, I’ve become less and less trustful, first of my government leadership on all levels, and then of the people themselves, my neighbors. It seems we have fallen to extremes and have become selfish and cruel to each other, spurred to violence at any turn of phrase, easily offended by others whether intentional or incidental.

The advice of every line is a tall order for those going into the world today. But think what it would mean if you followed it. One human taking responsibility for that which is before them, strong and kind, meeting danger without fear or shrinking, whether they be a big or small person in society, can change the world immediately around them. That life inspires those around them to do the same, and those around them to do the same in turn, creating a ripple of integrity that can do wonders unimaginable.

It reminds me of my own mother’s question (and probably yours), “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?” I’ll meet the day and those I meet in it with strength and gentleness. I’ll stand my ground with love. I’ll not shrink for what I am responsible for doing, despite the fear and anger around me. My “friends” may be jumping off a cliff, but I’ll do my best to do something smarter, and maybe give others someone to follow.

If you’re interested in reading more of my thoughts inspired by this book, hop back to my first post, Stoker’s The Lady of the Shroud.

Stoker’s The Lady of The Shroud

When I am up in Big Bear, I always visit the used book store, Bearly Used Books. It’s tucked away upstairs at the Village Faire and every time I go in there, I find several treasures to take home with me. I go right to the “classics” section and run my finger along the titles, searching for the ones I don’t have or by authors I heard the name of. This last time my eyes stopped “Bram Stoker” and it was not under the title Dracula, it was The Lady of The Shroud.

the lady of the shroud

I didn’t know Bram Stoker wrote anything else and Dracula is one of my favorite stories. I’ve read the book at least twice and seen every movie rendition of it several times over. Yes, it’s the sex that draws me in. There’s just something super-hot about the story, but I won’t get into THAT because we’re here to talk about The Lady of The Shroud!

I read the introduction in this version and was fascinated by his family and upbringing. His father was a civil servant (a career he took up as well), and his mother was…eccentric. She was friends with Oscar Wilde’s mother and, as an adult, Stoker stole his girl out from under him and married her. I didn’t know that Stoker was Irish or that his name was Abraham, which makes Bram as a name make sense. Now I’m wondering if there might be a good biography about the author out there.

I’m only eighteen pages into The Lady of The Shroud and I’m already enjoying the style immensely. It’s written the same way Dracula was, letters and documents used to report on an incident as if it happened to the author recently and he’s just documenting the facts for the future.

It’s interesting to me that I can read a 350-page modern novel far faster than I can a classic from 100 years ago. This book is 258 pages long, large pages, a fine print. I only read about twenty pages the hour I had this morning. Settle in because it looks like we’ll be here a while.

“…my dear Rupert, you shall be of full age in seven years more. Then, if you are in the same mind – and I am sure you shall not change – you, being your own master, can do freely as you will.”

The lady of the shroud by bram stoker

Rupert’s parents died and his mother left him an estate controlled by trustees until he is an adult. He gets money for lodging, food, and clothing, from that estate each year, but he wishes to legally give it to his “aunt,” a woman that used to care for him as governess. His trustees cannot legally do that but some are helping him to help her in other ways.

What interests me is that Rupert has shown up at his uncle’s home, poor, dirty, and hungry, to ask him (as his trustee) to help him. The man refuses, then offers food. Rupert refuses it and leaves. Then I read he’ll be “of full age in seven years.” Full age at the time was 21, so Rupert is fourteen years old and on his own. That’s not surprising for the time. It’s only recently we have begun to think of young people between thirteen and twenty as “children” needing constant care and supervision.

It reminds me of when my oldest son took off for a two-week trip to Germany when he was sixteen, and then left again for a year there when he was seventeen. I knew (but I was still terrified) that he was essentially a young adult with very little experience and the only way to gain experience is by doing life. He went out into the world, an adult in many ways but still under the protection of his family, not quite in charge of himself, the same way Rupert is in my story.

I believe we coddle our children, much to their detriment and our own. Yes, they are young and learning. They will make many mistakes, some of which can ruin them or others. But the only way we all learn is by doing. We can’t set them safely aside until they reach a more moderate age and then set them free into the world expecting them to act that age. Maturity is only brought on by experience.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this book. Will it be as good as Dracula? Possibly. It already feels similar. The matter-of-fact way that Stoker describes the eerie way things happen, it’s like he’s ever so slowly slowing down your heart to stop it. You don’t even know he’s doing it until it’s too late, a lot like the way Dracula entreats you to give up your life blood willingly.

Want to read more? Check out these posts inspired by quotes from this book!
Much Needed Advice From the Past
A Mysterious Compulsion Has Come Over Me
What Does it Mean to Feel Contentment?
Gothic Fiction Turns Steam Punk in this Gem

How to Take Smart Notes

I started reading How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens yesterday. I picked it up months ago because it promised to help me better use a notecard system that I heard of last year.

how to take smart notes

You guys, I have to admit something. Choosing a new book to read off a very full set of TBR shelves is hard. What do you do if none of those books sound interesting at the moment you need to choose? They’re great books, all of them. At some point I wanted to read them so badly that I bought them and set them there like soldiers ready for battle.

I promised myself that I would not buy a book this month, and I’m hoping to not buy a book next month. My thinking is, if I restrict myself, maybe I’ll be forced to read the ones I have and begin emptying those shelves. I don’t like that many unread books sitting there. It makes me sad to see them waiting like that. Passed over and abandoned for no other reason than my capriciousness.

But then…what if I die next month?! Then I’ll be laying on my deathbed wondering why I wasted my last reading days on books I didn’t really want to read. I’ll be headed to the other side with regrets on my heart, books unpurchased and unread. It’s a conundrum for sure.

Don’t worry too much. I did choose one and started reading it yesterday morning. It’s called “How to Take Smart Notes” by Sönke Ahrens. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? I doubt I’ll be sending out many inspirational quotes from this one. What will I even come up with to comment on?

Hold on a moment. Is that why I read anything? Do I pick books in the hopes of getting your attention and admiration? I haven’t in the past. I usually read the books that grab my attention, the ones that move me closer to understanding the world or help me to learn new skills and ideas. THAT’S why it has been harder to pick a book from the TBR shelf lately. I’m choosing what might be interesting to YOU instead of me.

Like Mickey Mouse says in Fantasmic, “This is MY dream!”

I bought this little self-published book because it promised to help me better understand a note taking method that I had heard of and had been trying to use. I haven’t been very successful at it, but it looks like a brilliant way to organize all these seemingly random thoughts and I ideas I have while I read and listen to podcasts. It should help me write better articles in the future.

I feel bad saying this but…I’m not liking it. Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t a bad book. There is useful information in it. It is encouraging me to refine and continue using the note card system, but the writing isn’t grabbing me. I feel like they are repeating themselves and rambling too much. It could have been a nice long article, but as a book it feels stretched out.

I hate to give up on a book. There may be gems buried inside. Sometimes reading can be like hard rock mining, there is a cost to keep going. Will it be worth my time and effort? Will the resources I spend to get deeper result in finding the motherlode? I’ve decided to skim it instead of reading it too deeply. I’ll keep my eye out for gems and minimize my energy and time output.

I’m halfway through How to Take Smart Notes right now. Even if I don’t get what I came for, I’m sure I’ll find some small spark of inspiration. Let’s see what happens.

Want to read more posts inspired by this book? Check out,
Real Learning is Connecting Dots Yourself

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Just as the sun started to light the sky this morning, I finished reading The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. 357 pages in 9 hours/5 minutes. Mmm…sexy stats. It’s December and I’m already excited to sit all day on New Year’s, calculating all my reading time, pages, and piling up books that I’ve read this past year. It will be the 5th year in a row!

The Good Earth

Wait a minute. Am I starting to get back in the swing of daily writing? This is the second day of posting in a row, so it is looking good. Yes, I’m excited about two days writing streak. Baby steps! Celebrate the small victories!

Side note: I’ve gone back to using my notebook to track reading instead of the Bookly app. While I enjoy the graphs and awesome stats that the app provides, I found myself not taking notes and then missing out at the end of the read. I need a better system and I’ve been contemplating that for weeks now.

Back to the book!

Why did I choose this book right now? I found it in a used bookstore in Big Bear recently and recognized the title, so I grabbed it up. It’s written in 1931. I love old books. It’s about China, which I know very little about. And when my step-mom expressed an interest in reading it together, going so far as to watch the movie and buy the book, I shoved aside the long suffering books on my TBR shelf and started reading it right away.

And I was not disappointed. It’s not an exciting or action-packed story, just one man’s life in pre-revolutionary China, how he grew up, married, had children, and founded a great and rich family. A rags to riches story that comes full circle. I can’t imagine anyone not being able to see themselves in it. We all strive to make more of ourselves than our ancestors. We all want to leave a better life for our children.

I didn’t find any great quotes that stood out to me to share as I read this time. It’s a quiet, understated story. But I loved every page and groaned out loud when I saw the direction he was going, or when I wanted him to avoid problems. I commiserated with him when all he wanted was peace in his house. And I cried for him when he wondered what he would do next.

I’m glad I stumbled across The Good Earth, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. The problem is that now I want more about China. Any fiction or non-fiction recommendations?

Earlier This Morning I Wouldn’t Have

Earlier this morning… This is going to be a quickie. Rough and short. So much fun!

What time is it?

Taps fitbit.

4:10am

Shit.

I’d hoped for an extra hour of sleep. I was dreaming all night. Crazy dreams about a young man on a bar stool, Disneyland being underwater so we had to swim to rides, on vacation I had the vet put my dog and cat down and I wasn’t sure why or how I would explain it, and I needed my shoes out of the car to go for a walk but my aunt had tied herself up and locked herself in the trunk to get attention.

This is not abnormal. I dream crazy crap just about every night. You could make a movie of a string of them, disjointed and strange. You’d leave the theater trying to puzzle them together. Why? What does it mean? It means nothing at all. It’s just a random string of unconscious thought.

Stumble to my closet, grab my flannel pants (put them on) and my fuzzy warm jacket. Stupid cat scratching at the door. Dog precedes me into the kitchen and paws her bowl. She’s up! It’s breakfast time! Finally!

I’m rubbing my eyes and she’s losing patience. Ok! Sheesh! Fills bowl only to watch her look at it like it’s the worms and lay down beside the bowl.

Coffee. I need coffee. I’ve recently taken to using my travel mug in the morning, even though I’m not traveling. Is that a transgression I can be held accountable for in court? It’s insulated and my coffee stays hot for an hour. I’m a sipper while I read in the morning and I’m always gulping down cold coffee twenty minutes into the book. Not anymore! Consequences be damned!

What time is it now? 5am.

Ugg…I’m hungry. I better eat and THEN write today’s post. I need to leave for my breakfast date at 7am.

Today’s post? You’re writing TODAY’S post TODAY?

Yep. This writing practice is fun. I’ve put the graphic from Writer’s Write for November’s prompts on my background screen, so I see it and remember my plan. Thirty minutes writing on the day’s prompt, edit a few minutes, and then post (even if I hate it).

My point isn’t to write something brilliant every day. I’m only trying to build a new habit of writing without worrying so much about what to write and where it fits in. Too many days, I get to the time of day that I like to write, only to come against a roadblock because I’m worrying if there is any point at all to what I’m writing.

Earlier this morning, I had planned on writing my final thoughts about the book “Rationality” that I finished reading yesterday, but I’m short on time and I’m not sure what I’ll say just yet. If I didn’t have this fun exercise to do, I’d probably skip the post and read a little longer instead. I have an excuse. But not this month, baby!

I opened up a new file, gave it a title of today’s prompt, and started in. And here we are together…humming along, just like we would be if we were chatting over coffee. Me babbling on about nothing in particular and you laughing at what a real weirdo you’re stuck with. Is this love? I think so.

What was I doing? Oh yes, earlier this morning!

I got a bowl of oatmeal, wrote in my journal, made another pot of coffee, and snatched up my laptop, flipping it open as I snuggled down into my spot on the couch again.

What times is it? 6am.

Crap. I’m not going to leave on time if I keep this up. Right. I’ll just play with the prompt for a bit while I finish one more cup of coffee and then hit the showers.

Earlier this morning I’d hoped for at least thirty minutes to write. In the past I’d have skipped the whole months exercise because I know (with all I have planned this month) I’ll never succeed in writing like this EVERY day. I’ll fail, so don’t start.

Not this time! Something is better than nothing and most days are better than none.

That’s all the television, I mean story, there is.

Go back to my first post “NaNoWriMo: But It’s NOT a Novel, It’s…” for more weirdness.

The Cider House Rules: New Read

“The Cider House Rules” looks so innocent. A small paperback novel, one that a great movie was based on, sits upon my TBR shelf. It was bought from an unexpected used bookstore at the Moreno Valley Mall called The Dollar Bookfair, recently. $1 for, what now looks like is going to be, nearly twelve hours of beautifully written entertainment.

I didn’t realize that John Irving’s book, written in 1985 was going to be such a complicated read when I picked it up, but I’m loving his style something fierce.

A few months ago, I watched the movie for the first time. I know…twenty years late. I’ve seen the trailers, always looked like it would be a great story, and it has some of my favorite actors in it. Why did I never watch it? Probably because it came out right as I got married, was busy with work, and then kids. I haven’t had time for dramatic movies that kids can’t sit through.

But I do now!

I didn’t rush to put the book the movie was based on on my TBR list because it was a fine movie. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything, but when I saw it on the shelf at the Dollar Bookfair for $1, I had to have it. Why not?

I thought this would be a 50-page-per-hour book, like many novels are, but it’s turning out to be half that. The language, the descriptions of place and character are just so beautiful that I can’t rush through.

The story is not easy emotionally either. There’s a lot of pain to get through, but luckily, since I’ve seen the movie, I know that there is a lot of beauty and joy as well. The story reflects life. Nothing is easy and straightforward. The bitter makes the sweet so much more rich.

So here I am, diving in. I’m predicting fifteen days to finish this book. We’ll see. Have you read The Cider House Rules? Seen the movie? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

An Unexpected Classic Vampire Novel Has Been Discovered!

Sometimes you just uncover the best things when you allow the world to influence you, like a classic vampire novel just in time for Halloween!

Crazy thing. I went into this book not expecting much, just felt like I had to read it because I bought it and it was sitting on the shelf taunting me. “Chicken…you just don’t want to read me because I’m fat and you think I’ll ruin your number of books read this month statistics!” And then I swear it heaved a sigh and cried a bit each time I thumbed through the books on the shelf.

classic vampire novel

Besides, it was October and everyone else on Instagram was reading scary books so why not join in?!

I was a big Stephen King fan in high school, but the stories fell out of favor once I was out of school, then working and then raising kids. A few years ago, I stumbled across 11.22.63 one day and we watched the hell out of it. When I realized it was Stephen King book, I immediately bought it and started reading in the hopes of getting more story because I was a little confused. That’s when my Stephen King marathon began.

Sidenote: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, these new limited series shows based on books (what we oldies used to call a mini-series) are awesome. So much better than traditional movies based on books because there’s so much more time to tell the whole story and all it’s threads, and better than the old “made for tv” mini-series because they put more money into them.

Reading the book after I’d seen the show wasn’t that helpful in this instance because in eight hours, they had no reason to skip parts of the story for time. This was one of the first books that I got because of a limited series show, and I’ve learned not to do it anymore. It’s a waste of (nearly 12 hours of reading) time and ($8 to $30 depending on the format) money for a story if you’ve seen the show already.

But…there are perfectly legit reasons to put in the effort to read and see both. The Stand was an example of that. I liked the new movie, loved reading the book and comparing how they presented the characters and story, and enjoyed seeing a bit of the old version as well. Besides, you do what makes you happy, you know? You don’t need a reason!

‘Salem’s Lot though…wow.

I knew nothing of this book when I bought it. I was just adding one more Stephen King Book to my TBR shelf. I heard it was a classic, so it jumped into my cart. I am slightly disappointed that I didn’t splurge for a better copy, though. This one is a Pocket Books edition: a small and cheap paperback, not for keeping on your library shelf. Once again…if I could turn back time…(sings her best Cher impersonation).

You guys…I didn’t know it was a classic vampire novel! Yes…even with the cover I have…it’s sad.

What?! I know! You know I LOVE vampire stories! And this one did not disappoint in any way. I’m sorry IT, but you need to move over. ‘Salem’s Lot is now my very favorite Stephen King book, possibly my favorite vampire story, but I haven’t re-read Bram Stoker’s in a long time (scribbles down note to do so soon).

It’s simply a classic thriller with twists that make it impossible to put down. I recently read that there is a new movie of it coming out in 2022, so I’m looking forward to seeing THAT. Maybe I’ll even go search out the 1979 mini-series for comparison. I watched the trailer for it online and tried hard not to giggle at it but…so cheesy!

Oh! One more thing! I’m still using Bookly for tracking my reading and it came up with this sweet little graphic when I clicked “finished” yesterday. I’m geeking out so hard over this app!

Have you read it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments. I’m dying to hear your thoughts! Pop back to my first post about the classic vampire novel, ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King: New Read, to read more of my thoughts on this book.

Nietzsche is my Therapist on Social Matters

My therapist said that withdrawing from everything probably isn’t a good idea. And by “therapist” I mean Nietzsche. Yes, you read that right. It might sound crazy, but Nietzsche is my therapist when it comes to social matters.

And thanks to him, I have returned to Facebook once again and I feel that I need to say why officially, so here it goes.

I’m “thirsty among men” (and not in a dirty way!) because I am over-picky about what I drink. I’m unclean because I refuse to wash with just any water.

My go-to response to stress in the recent past has been to withdraw from the situation that’s causing me stress completely. This was an improvement on my previous tactic of attack and belittle until the people around me changed their behavior or admitted they were horribly wrong. That caused me to feel bad that I had lost my mind, only to turn it around and attack and belittle myself that I should learn some new behaviors and quit ruining people’s lives.

Nearly ten years ago, I learned about meditation. It showed me that I could take a step back from my reactions and give myself time to think. I took a step back from A LOT of things because it felt easier than confronting and dealing with my emotions and my thoughts, not to mention my attitude.

Just like the rest of us, the past couple of years has been pretty rough. I wasn’t ready to face it, so I took HUGE steps back. I withdrew into my home and refused to come out until everyone around me could play nice.

I read a lot, wrote some, read some more, learned a few new habits, found some peace…and then realized how lonely I was. What’s the point of learning to chill all alone? I can’t very well tell myself I’ve mastered the art of “people” if I never talk to people, can I?

In the past, I wouldn’t have put so much thought into being “social,” especially online. Growing up, I was always in school. As a young adult, I worked at amusement parks. Married with children, I had playgroups and homeschool activities with my kids.

These days I spend the majority of my time at home with my husband. I don’t work outside my home, and I don’t have social clubs to attend. My children are grown and on their own. I do have close friends and I spend plenty of time each week with them, but sometimes I need more, and Facebook provides that for me…when I can do it right and not freak out and run away, that is.

There is one thing that bothers me. Facebook the company. It’s an ethical dilemma. I don’t agree with the politics, but then again, I don’t agree with anyone’s politics much anyway. It’s the “dirty water” thing. Yes, there are other platforms, but so few people are there, so…

So, with a few new tools and some advice from my friend Nietzsche, I’m back in the pool again. I am making a short list of things to remember while I’m there.

What do you think of social media in general? Personally, I’ve always been a huge fan until the last few years. I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful in connecting me to the world outside my home, even BCB. I want that feeling of connection back!

I’ve created a Facebook page for this blog in the hope of connecting with more readers. If you feel so inclined, do me a solid and like and share the page so that we can have a bigger party!

Pop over to my previous post, Alone with Me, Myself, and I, for more of my thoughts on Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche.

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King: New Read

I’ve succumbed to PEER PRESSURE and decided to read ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King in the spirit of the season!

'Salem's Lot

Another new read, Michelle? Really?

Hey, I’m only reporting on what’s going on around here. Don’t blame the messenger!

What can I say? I read a lot.

It irritates me when I become a follower, but so many book bloggers and “bookstagrammers” on Instagram were posting about Halloween reads that I decided to go with the flow and pick up “‘Salem’s Lot” off my TBR shelf. I bought it several months ago but was pretty burned out on Stephen King at the time, so I had set it aside for other (shorter and less terrifying) things.

The time has come to crack open this gargantuan paperback and peek inside. I’ve never read it before, and I know there was an old tv miniseries based on the book but I’ve never seen it. Now it looks like there will be a new movie coming out next year. Looks like a recurring theme, doesn’t it? Didn’t we just go through this with “The Stand?”

“‘Salem’s Lot” was first published in 1975, only three years after yours truly was born, and his second novel. I didn’t know this until I picked the book up off my shelf, (Yes, I bought it without really knowing what it was about. It’s Stephen King and one of his first. I need no other enticement.) but this book is about VAMPIRES! I love vampire stories! Why have I not read this before? Weird.

As you can probably tell, I’m excited to dive into this novel. Yesterday’s read brought me 94 pages in and I’m making very few notes. I usually read with pencil in hand to mark passages that I feel are particularly enlightening, but King writes differently. It’s not a stand-alone sentence or paragraph that makes you go, “Hmm…” It’s his timing and build-up. He creeps in there over pages and pages of words that you might think are extra. I mean, please, do we need to describe everything?!

Apparently, yes, we do, because you’re reading along and then you get a chill, you realize you haven’t taken a breath in a page, maybe two, your heart starts to speed up, and then he backs away again, only to creep up on the horror a few pages later and catch you by surprise. This is going to be so much fun.

My Analog Reading Log

I think I’ve mentioned it before in one of my annual reading summary posts that I keep a log of what I’m reading and when. It’s a paper book (because I’m all about analog) and each January I make up a statistics report about how many books I’ve read, what kind, how much time I spent, and how many pages. I know you’re wondering, “Why?!” Because I have a very strange sense of fun and this pleases me immensely!

Bookly App Screenshot

This past week I decided to try using the Bookly app to track because I heard that it makes pretty reports. These are the things that bring me joy! This is what I have so far, but when I finish the book, it will make a sweet little graphic of all the details and I can share it here and be proud of myself. I’m THAT kind of crazy.

For the time being, I’m logging in my paper book AND on the app. It remains to be seen whether I will keep using both. I’ll probably go back to the analog way eventually. Pencil and paper also please my little heart. Technology can lure me for a while, but I typically end up returning to my old ways. I like the tactile feel of it all. And seeing the physical reading journals lined up at the end of my bookshelf makes me happy.

The last book I read by Stephen King was The Stand, but there are others. Click over to my Autobibliography page to find them!

For more thoughts inspired by this book, read:
Hunger or Want: Achieving Maturity
An Unexpected Classic Vampire Novel Has Been Discovered!

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