There are days when I wonder why I even bother reading anything. Today I was especially reminded of how futile it is and yet I persist. Definition of insanity in action.
The last time I went to the movies (to see my beloved Star Wars) I saw a trailer for “Emma” and thought, “Oh man! I have to find some people to go see that with me and if I can’t, I swear, I’ll go see it alone.” It’s not much fun to see movies alone. There’s no one to look at and give a thumbs up or down for each trailer, no one to roll your eyes at during dramatically sickening scenes, and no one to sit and tear apart the movie with directly afterward. Sure, you can do it online but it’s not the same. I will see this movie alone if I have to, but I’m holding out hope for a fellow Jane Austen fan to go with me.
When I saw the trailer and had these crazy thoughts about who to see the movie with (my husband and son definitely will not, although I would have sat through that Ferrari movie if they wanted me to), I thought, “You know, I’m fairly certain I have the book on my shelf at home. I should read it before the movie comes out!” A few days later, I was rummaging through my bookshelves on New Year’s Eve gathering up all the books I’d read throughout the year because I had a strange compulsion to have a picture of them all in one big pile, and there it was, right where I believed it would be.
It doesn’t always happen, you know. I have repurchased books I already have and searched in vain for books I thought about getting but never did. This time I was right, and I was very excited. How clever of me to buy a book in the hopes that I would read it in the future. I found the book at a used bookstore and remember picking it up and thinking that I liked other Jane Austen books, this one would add to my collection!
I set the book on my “to read” shelf and went back to my obsessive gathering and quantifying on New Year’s Eve and then into New Year’s Day. Yesterday morning, I finished my current book and picked up “Emma” to get in a few pages before I ran off to do the laundry only to find…
Eighteen months ago, I had read this book and I had no recollection of it. I flipped through the pages and found my penciled notes inside. Sigh.
What’s the point of reading if I don’t have even the foggiest of notions about what I’ve read less than two years later? It’s not like I was trying to pull up a list of books from memory. I had it in my hand, pulled it off my own bookshelf, and it did not jog my memory in the slightest.
After reading it for an hour this morning, I’m only slightly less depressed. I am recalling the story and the characters as I read. It’s not like the entire book has been banished from my memory. And maybe a second reading like this will help cement it in my mind better.
I’m wondering if it might be a good idea to spend the coming year re-reading books. It would certainly save money! But then…there are so many books on my wish list! Maybe someday I won’t be able to buy any more books and I can start re-reading then.
Year Three of combining my love of books with my obsession with making lists and the numbers are in!
1.03 hours per day
1.84 hours per day
1.9 hours per day
12.14 hours per book
8.82 hours per book
9.79 hours per book
If anyone wonders if I have a slight obsession with books, just look at this photo and you will be left without a doubt.
This year past year, my goal was to get to an average of two hours of reading per day and I almost made it. Of course, are days that I just don’t get a chance to read, so I try to read for three hours on the days that I can, to make up for those missed ones, but it just wasn’t enough. Maybe next year!
On New Year’s Eve I had a wild idea to go around and gather up all the books I read this year and make a big pile of them. I got my reading notebook out and went on an Easter Egg Hunt around the house. A couple books I couldn’t find and I can’t remember what I did with them. A few a let my son borrow when he moved to Virginia earlier this year. And a couple I read on my Kindle, so I don’t have the physical book, although I may go back and buy them.
It was fun hunting them down and an interesting thing happened while I was searching the shelves for the titles. First of all, I realize that I need a better shelving situation. My shelves are overloaded and, although I have gone through and organized them by genre before, they soon end up all shuffled again. I add books over the years and don’t want to spend the time moving everything around to accommodate the new books or books that should be shelved with others of its genre are too big to fit on the shelf the previous books were given. I’m not sure what I can do about that other than marvel that I have so many wonderful books. And it does give me the opportunity to happily hunt through the shelves from time to time, so there’s that.
The other interesting thing that I didn’t expect was how exciting it was to see those books again and remember them. It’s one thing to see them written out in a list, but another to see the cover in your hand. It’s like seeing a friend in the grocery store verses reading their Facebook posts. Memories came flooding back and I’d flip through the pages and see my notes. “No, Michelle, we have to stay on track. This is a gathering mission. You can read and reminisce later.” Seeing them all on my dining room table at once made me proud of my work. And it was infinitely easier to pick out my favorites!
Something that I would like to do this year is keep track of books that I’ve bought for future reading, whether or not I have the book in possession or if I loaned it or gave it away for whatever reason. It drives me bonkers not knowing what has become of my precious babies!
Historical Fiction: 3
Short Stories: 4
DNF (Did Not Finish): 4
As I flipped through the pages making compilation lists of genre, pages, and hours read, I started to think maybe I should make up an Excel spreadsheet and tally the books as I read them throughout the year. It would make this part of my hobby much simpler, but then it probably wouldn’t be nearly as fun.
Yes, I’m a little strange, but I can’t think of a better way to spend New Year’s Eve and Day than going through my notebooks and visiting with the friends I made this year.
2020 is going to be an amazing year for books. I’m continuing to use my Instagram page to post pictures of the books I’m reading and quotes I find in them. I’ll keep sharing my own work on my blog and Medium. Facebook is a good place to keep up with what I’m posting anywhere else. If you find anything share-worthy, please do so! Sharing my posts really helps widen my audience and I appreciate all the help I can get.
I’m excited to keep reading and writing more this coming year and I hope you’ll enjoy what I find! If you want to see the titles, check out my READING LIST page. You’ll find them there in the order I read them and which ones were my favorites.
Back in September, my sweet husband, in an attempt to help me, bought me a Chromebook to write on. I had complained over the summer that between him talking to customers on one side and the boys and their antics on the other, I just couldn’t focus at my desktop in my office. If I had a laptop, I could take myself out to the trailer and lock the door. Alone in silence, without the distractions of, “Where’s the butter?” “Have you seen my red shoes?” and “Have you tried deleting the app and reinstalling?” maybe I could better focus on writing and make a go of this author thing. Laptops are expensive just to buy for an experiment, so he got the Chromebook as a test. If taking it out to the trailer alone proved to be helpful, then it would make sense to buy a better laptop for me to use.
Now, before you get disgruntled with my husband’s lack of confidence that I NEEDED the laptop, I’m notorious for wanting to do things and then getting bored or losing interest. We’ve been married for twenty years and known each other much longer. He knows me, sometimes better than I know myself. Once again, he made a good decision in going cheap before jumping in with both feet, but not for the reason we thought!
Since the beginning of November, my right elbow and wrist had started hurting. I’m not talking a little. It has been painful to the point of tears. After attempting to scoop cookies out onto a tray for Christmas, my arm was shaking in pain. Ibuprofen did nothing, but CBD oil helped a bit. It would start to subside but come back in full force anytime I forgot about it and reached to grasp and turn anything with my right hand.
I was becoming discouraged, to say the least. I thought it might be arthritis. I am getting older and the weather at the beginning of November had turned cold and wet suddenly, and it has stayed that way. I was considering going to the doctor to see if there was anything she could do. Maybe I have elbow cancer and there is something they could do to save me if I don’t wait?
These are my actual thoughts. I hate doctors and do everything I can to avoid going, but anytime something hurts, I instantly think it’s the end…but I still don’t see a doctor. I’m convinced that’s how I’ll die. Something will bother me for years, I’ll try to ignore it, attempt to cure the ailment myself, and finally break down and make an appointment. Then they’ll tell me that I have only a few weeks to live, but I could have been saved if I had only seen a doctor earlier.
But I digress.
This morning, when I sat down to get back to a regular habit of writing every morning (for the sixth time this month), I picked up my Chromebook, set it in my lap, and started on my journal, my wrist immediately started to ache worse than ever. That’s when it dawned on me. You know what else started the week my wrist started hurting? Nanowrimo. It’s the first year that I made the commitment to write every morning from 10am to noon and I was keeping it. By day five, my elbow started hurting and I blamed it on the cold weather and age.
These are the things we do, people. You’d think it would be obvious what’s to blame for our troubles, but we live blind most of the time. I can’t believe I didn’t see that. A friend even suggested that it sounded like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and I just shook my head, “I can’t imagine what repetitive wrist action I do that would do that!” Maybe it was because it started in my elbow and not my wrist?
Today, I’m back at my desktop in my office with the door shut and earplugs in. Not being able to hear really helps. It’s like the world is shut out. The bonus is that I’m right here with my notebooks and more coffee when I need it! Oh, and that cat. He keeps walking over my hands between my face and the screen because he’s a cat and his mission is to drive me bonkers! I’d lock him out but then he’d just scratch up my door to get in.
And now on to what I thought I’d be writing about this morning! I started reading Nick Hornby’s “Ten Years in the Tub” a couple days ago. How is it that I come across just the book I need at just the right time?
I picked the book up at Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago, right off the shelf, not even out in the middle with a “Must Read!” sign on it. I was browsing through the shelves and there it was. A book about reading books? A book about what he’s reading and why? It sounded like a decent way to find some new interesting books to read next year!
I’d never heard of Nick Hornby, but when I posted a picture of the book on Facebook, as I do each time I start one, a friend said she loved his writing. Intriguing.
Diving into it a few mornings ago, I was instantly happy I bought it, and even happier that I decided to read it now, in the last few days of the year, even though it’s a fat book and I won’t finish it before January 1st, so I won’t be able to add it to 2019’s book totals. Yes, it’s all about the list and making it look as good as possible.
Speaking of that list, I’m really excited to get started on my January 1, 2020, post! It will be the third year in a row that I’ve welcomed the new year with a tally of the hours, pages, and the number of books I’ve read over the past 12 months. I know you’re looking forward to it! Don’t worry, I’ll compare the previous year’s totals!
Back to Nick Hornby’s book about a reading list! How lucky is this guy to be paid to do exactly what I’ve been dreaming of doing, what I love doing? And then I got sad. He already does it. Why would I do it? But hold the freakin’ phone a moment! He’s a totally different person, from a completely different background, reading entirely different books. What I read, why, and what I think about it, comes from my personal perspective, my journey, my voice. It’s not the same. That’s like saying someone already wrote a book about space travel, so why would I?
Self-talk. It’s what I do.
I’m going to wrap this post up, but before I go, let me just give you a heads up. This coming week, I’m going to post an “Hasta La Vista, 2019!” essay and another about my precious reading statistics. The latest Star Wars movie (and a trip to Disneyland) has inspired some deep Jedi thoughts, but I have to finish watching all the old movies with my son before I see the new one again before I can really do that essay justice, so have patience Padawan!
Last thing, I promise, my goal this week is to post SOMETHING every day of the week, even if it’s just a few words. Prepare yourself to be inundated!
“There are too many books in this world to waste precious time reading ones we don’t enjoy.”
A reader posted a meme about someone saying they didn’t like a book (acceptable) but they didn’t finish it (unacceptable). I think that’s ridiculous. Reading is supposed to bring us joy or information. If I’m not enjoying the book, I rarely get much information from it. And so…it’s a waste of the precious time on this earth that we are given to continue.
Now, there are books that moved a little slow for my taste at first or the subject didn’t quite hold on to me, but I kept at them because the writing was good and I wanted to give it a fair shake. Those books ended up being great for the most part. If I have to force myself to keep reading or don’t have the urge to keep reading the next chapter, I put that book down. It may not even be a bad book. It just isn’t for me.
You know what’s strange? The same goes for the rest of life. If it doesn’t bring you positives, let it go. There are so many experiences in this world and we have so little time on this planet. Why would we waste that precious time on things that aren’t serving us? Sure, there are things we have to do, things we need to do to survive or to take care of our loved ones, but if we do them from the right frame of mind, they end up being positives as well and worth doing. Why would we deliberately choose to stay in a situation, a job, a relationship, anything, that brings absolutely no joy to ourselves or someone we cherish? Just put the book down.
How about we all practice taking responsibility for our own happiness for a change? If you’re unhappy, unsatisfied, unfulfilled, change something. Change the process. Change your surroundings. Change the direction. Change your attitude. Take back the control of your own life instead of just floating along with the flow.
Start with the book you’re reading. Just like each book is not for everyone, each life choice is not for everyone. Do what you love. Be where you love. Accept responsibility for your own life choices. Go for it.
I know many of my friends and family are big fans of e-books, but I’ve never been able to love them. It’s not that I disapprove of them or am daunted by technology. I actually think it’s brilliant. I have the Kindle app on my phone and occasionally buy the e-book version of a book so that I can take it with me on a trip more easily or, when I’m reading a more provocative title, read it more privately, but I just can’t love them like I want to.
The truth of the matter is that I simply enjoy having the books that I have spent time in on my physical shelves, no matter how crowded they get. When I walk into the room, I can see them, and I get an instant sense of accomplishment. It’s a physical representation of my effort. I remember them and visit, like seeing old friends. When I’m bored, I scan through the titles sitting so prettily on my selves like small sentinels of my past. Sometimes I pull them off the shelves and leaf through them, see my notes, and read a paragraph. It warms me and brings me closer to… What? I don’t really know. All I do know is that it feels good and I don’t want to let them go.
Today I read this in “The Bookshop on the Corner” by Jenny Colgan,
“I think I just stopped seeing books around,” the man went on. “You know, on the bus, everyone used to read books. But then they were fiddling with their phones or those big phones, I don’t know what they’re called.”
“They were probably reading on their tablets,” said Nina loyally. She loved her e-reader too.
“Yes, I know,” said the man, “But I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see what they were reading or ask them if it was good or make a mental note to look for it later. It was if suddenly, one day, all the books simply disappeared.”
It brought up something I never thought of before and not in a negative, “these damn things,” kind of way, in a “something is missing” kind of way.
When I love a book, just by having it out in my hand in public, I’m sharing it with the readers around me. And if I see someone with a title or book cover that looks interesting, I can make a note of it without saying a word. We communicate with the people around us even when we don’t think we are! It’s a covert operation. The perfect introvert sharing opportunity.
When we’re looking at our e-readers, most people assume we’re busy talking to another person, so they don’t want to interrupt. But having a book out sitting next to you at the coffee shop, reading at the park or on the bus, is a conversation starter for those around you. “Oh! I love that book!” or “I was thinking about getting that. Is it good?” are great ways to start talking to a stranger. If they don’t want to be bothered, they’ll cut it short and I can move on. But if they’re interested in sharing about the book, they’ll keep talking and I’ll be in heaven. It’s a win/win situation.
I think I’ll start carrying a purse again, one big enough to have a novel in it that I can pick up and read while I’m in line or waiting for a friend. Who knows what conversations it might start or who it will inspire to pick up and read it too?
For a while now, I’ve been attempting to post about every book I read but I think I’m changing my plan. I have a backlog and it’s disrupting my peace. The picture you see above is my current pile of already read books waiting to be summed up. When anything starts to pile up, my anxiety starts to build and that’s when I shut down and discontinue my practice. Homework, email, laundry, diet plans: that overwhelm feeling grates on my nerves and colors everything else I attempt to do. I’ve found that it’s much better for me to pick and choose my battles. I can’t just throw out the clothes or the dishes instead of washing them when they pile up, but I can delete all the emails, drop the class, or walk away from the diet, so I do.
So here we are with a pile of books on the corner of my desk, waiting to be reviewed and blogged about. Every day I see them and walk by. Every day I pick up the top one, thumb through it, look at the rest of the pile, and walk away. I can’t even sit at my computer and write about something else, because those books are looking at me in the accusatory way that makes me start to sweat every time I see them.
This morning, I walked by and thought, “My that pile looks so pretty like that. I should take a picture.” As I did, I had an epiphany. Why not post about that pile? Maybe pull one thing from each book to write about, give them closure so to speak, and then file them away on my bookshelf? And that is exactly what I’m doing right now.
This may be a bit long and boring but it has to be done. My reader heart needs closure on these. Feel free to scroll through and find a title that catches your eye! I will allow it…this time!
“Following Muhammad – Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World” by Carl W. Ernst
This book was suggested reading from another book I read about religious literacy and it was an excellent read. I highly recommend it for everyone. It really helped me understand Islam, its history, its diversity, and cleared up a lot of misunderstandings for me. It’s also not a long, boring, overly detailed read. It’s just an overview, something to get you started on the path to understanding and tolerance. Go get this book right now.
“The Last Days of the Late, Great State of California” by Curt Gentry
A friend sent me this book, with a few others, after our last big earthquake. He thought I’d like it and he was so right! It’s historical fiction, written as if the “Big One” hit and all of California was dumped into the sea, disappearing forever. It’s so easy to read and a great story. Most of the book highlights California history in the first half of the 20th century. What would the rest of the country miss if California disappeared? I couldn’t put it down and ended up adding a few other California History books to my reading list.
“Writing as a Path to Awakening” by Albert Flynn DeSilver
This one was a little too “woke” for me, but not a waste of time. I found some inspiration. Little things like “we are meaning-making machines” made me smile. I wrote that one down and posted in on my “writing altar” along with “Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes process, and with consistent attention, proficiency, and eventually, with further devotion, mastery.”
“The Best American Essays – 2018” edited by Hilton Als
I love a good essay! These would have been better if fewer of them were about how much Trump has ruined their lives. There were some great ones though. I love hearing people’s perspectives and experiences.
“Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them” by Francine Prose
“Hey! That’s me!” That’s what I thought when I saw the title on Amazon and clicked BUY. It was a bad idea though because…well…it added a couple dozen books to my reading list! Ha! It is full of great examples of narration, character, and dialogue, among other things. Reading it is like talking to a fellow book lover!
“The Man Who Quit Money” by Mark Sundeen
I read this under duress. It was assigned to my son by a college English Composition teacher last year and there has been much debate about its content, premise, and subject, but…no one had actually read it all. I decided I would. “In 2000, Daniel Suelo gave away his life savings. And began to live.” It was hard to read. I kept thinking, he’s not living with less or living without or “off the land,” he’s only living off others. He stays with friends, dumpster dives, and uses the internet at the library. I honestly don’t think he was any happier living that way than if he had just focused on being more conservative in how he lives, using less, etc. The only reason he could live the way he did was because most people don’t. Most people have more than they need, throw away excess, underuse what they have, so he has those resources. There was a lot to think about though and I appreciated his journey.
“Bright Lights, Big City” by Jay McInerney
So, what do I think when I read that title? “James and the Giant Peach” of course! I hear the centipede singing it every time I read those words. I hear there was a movie of this very book. I know…I’m so lost. Anyway, book was…interesting. Pretty darn sad. And deep at the end. Wow.
Two things I took away from it that were awesome. First of all, he works in a magazine’s “Department of Factual Verification.” I can’t imagine doing this job before the internet! Every article they buy from a writer must be “fact checked” by a third party before printing. They have to call places and look things up in the encyclopedia, libraries, and other publications. It’s a huge amount of work. The magazine has a reputation to protect. They can’t just pull an article off the internet if it turns out to be false like they do now. Once it’s in print, it’s there forever! Wow.
The other thing was this quote, “…what you are left with is a premonition of the way your life will fade behind you, like a book you have read too quickly, leaving a dwindling trail of images and emotions, until all you can remember is a name.” Ouch.
“Carrie” by Stephen King
This book has a back story too. It’s one of the scariest movies I ever saw, mostly because I saw it when I was around six years old! Before you go calling my mom a monster, little kids are supposed fall asleep late at night and my brother and I were safely tucked away and sound asleep in the back seat of our car in our feet pajamas when the movie started. You just gotta love drive-ins! My parents were watching the movie in the front seat and at the end of the movie, there I was with my head poked between the seats, eyes wide. I had nightmares for years! We were all traumatized!
Something I noticed when I finished the book…Carrie is just Frozen with a much more horrifying ending. Small girl with latent powers the adults can’t deal with so they lock her away until she becomes an adolescent, at which point her powers are too much for anyone to deal with including the girl.
“How to do Nothing – Resisting the Attention Economy” by Jenny Odell
Another great book with some amazing insight into stepping out of the world for a bit and changing your focus. I just wish it could have been done in a more positive way, without adding “the world is ending because Trump is president” bologna. The world is just as messed up as it always was. The internet isn’t destroying us. Facebook is not the great Satan. Please. Just stop. I also wish it had more examples and ideas of “how” instead of so much “why.”
“Wise Blood” by Flannery O’Connor
Ok. This…was strange. I never got the point of the story. Didn’t really care about the characters. The whole book was odd. Maybe I missed the point? While I did finish the book, desperately hoping for meaning, it did start a series of DNF’s (did not finish) in August.
“Beyond Good and Evil” by Friedrich Nietzsche
DNF. That’s what they write by your name if you start a race but don’t finish. Maybe your bike broke down or (Lord forbid) you crashed and didn’t get back on the bike, but you never crossed the finish line.
This book I did not finish. I just couldn’t read it. Several pages in and I had no idea what he was trying to say and no patience to have every page explained. I’m not sure if it’s the translation or what. I enjoy Nietzsche’s philosophy, so I was disappointed that I couldn’t read it for myself. Maybe I’ll find about book that explains it better? Or…maybe…take a class?
“Revolution at Berkeley” by Miller and Gilmore
Another DNF. A collection of articles about the protest at Berkeley in the 60’s. Fascinating read, mostly because the articles are from that time, not ours, but I gave up reading about a third of the way through. I had enough information and just wasn’t interested the subject anymore.
“Night Shift” by Stephen King
On a bit of a Stephen King jag lately. I have two more on my “to read” shelf! This guy really knows how to entertain through horror. My husband walked into the room while I was reading this and I about jumped out of my skin!
So, there you have it! Thirteen books! Phew…I’m exhausted!
How many times have you read a book and then found out it would be a movie or tv series? Just about everyone that reads has had that experience and it’s rarely positive, right? We automatically anticipate that the movie will not measure up, even though we secretly hope that it will. How can it? Not only can a book’s several plot lines and depth of characters not easily be condensed into two or three hours, but we each conjure up our own visions of those characters and scenes that just don’t seem to compare when presented to us in visual form from someone else’s imagination.
Long, complicated books are being turned into some pretty decent limited series programs on things like Netflix and Amazon though. I’ve seeen several amazing shows that follow a book or series of books very closely and I’ve loved them. I do wish some of the historical fiction they are creating right now would focus more on the historical aspects and less of the sensationalism of graphic sex and violence, but I digress.
A few years ago, we started watching “Under the Dome” in the evenings and were sucked into the story. It’s an intriguing idea. A whole town cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible dome, like a giant glass jar was dropped over the top of it. What would happen? What would the world outside do? What would the trapped people do? And where in the world did it come from? This was why I kept watching, only to be completely disappointed by the end of the series, prompting the whole family to look around in disappointment when we realized it was over. It was like they only half tried to make a story.
And then I found out that it was based on a book by Stephen King, one of my very favorite authors. I hadn’t read anything new from him since I was in college. Was he really writing books this bad? Or did the tv producers ruin it? I couldn’t imagine a famous author letting someone do that to his story? Crazy part…I was so disappointed in the show that I just forgot all about it.
Fast forward a few years later and I’m at Barnes & Noble looking for fiction and I stumble across “Under the Dome” by Stephen King. It’s a fat book, of course! On the front cover was the review, “Seven words: The best yet from the best ever. – Lee Child.” Not from what I saw on TV! Well, I love him, so I gave him a chance to redeem himself.
While not the best book I’ve read by King, I still enjoyed the story very much. It was classic. Several storylines, several characters going through a bunch of typical things, with clues to the bigger story all along the way, leading to the thing that ties it all together. I loved it. At the end of each hour of reading, I could feel the air getting more and more stale, the slow building urgency of the whole town and every resident’s different reaction to the event. How in the world does he do that?!
Don’t worry. I won’t give away the ending! Let’s just say that it seems to me that the TV show wasn’t even trying to portray the big picture, the “lesson” we are supposed to learn from all this. It was a huge let down. And I’m not sure how anyone could have liked that show at all, unless just going through the motions of life, not trying to figure out the whys and hows is how they live their life and like to watch the same on TV. I know. It’s harsh. But damn. Really? Did anyone that wrote the show read the book? Or did they get the Cliff’s Notes version and go from there?
A classic example of “the book is better” and these days there really is no excuse for that other than laziness, in my oh so humble opinion. If you watched the TV show and want answers to all your questions, read the book. They’re in there. And it’s worth your time!
Oh my goodness, people! We’re on week three of my new morning routine! Those that know me are in shock for sure. Sticking to anything for more than a week is pretty rare. For those that are just coming on board, or just plain don’t remember, I changed my focus three weeks ago and decided to treat reading and writing as my job.
I’m self-employed and working on building a business, the business of author, so I need to keep regular hours. My hours are 5am to 11am and during those hours, I think of myself as “at work.” When I’m at work, I act accordingly. I stick to my schedule and focus on my job, limiting my socializing by keeping my phone set to silent and checking my social media feeds after I’m done working for the day. For the most part anyway! What can I say? I have to be honest!
It has worked wonders! Suddenly, reading and writing is not something I get to when I have time. Reading and writing are not “messing around” all morning until I get up enough energy to get my housework done. They are my work! And when I’m done working, I have some lunch, talk to my friends, and get some housework done.
It’s a huge change of focus from the last fifteen years of my life. The kids’ activities and education, keeping on top of the housework, and making sure there was enough healthy food in the house used to be my priority. My “kids” have one foot out the door now and really don’t need me to focus on them so much. I do need to be here when they need me, but I don’t need to be directing or hovering. And my sweet husband works all morning too. He’s here in the house, but he’s working. He doesn’t need me coming in and telling him about strange bird activity in the yard or what I saw on Facebook either. This shift was a long time coming but once I saw the need, BAM, here I am!
So what does the morning consist of? Simple. Coffee. Read my non-fiction. Read my fiction. Yoga. Meditation. Coffee. Write 1000 new words. Edit and re-write yesterday’s words. Post. Breakfast. Read more. Done! That’s when I begin the rest of my day, when I take care of my other responsibilities…like playing with friends online!
And as you can tell by the frequent posting, it’s working! Goals are being met! Now…if I could only make a living at this. The plotting and planning continues!
Thing I learned: I’ve learned this many times in the past, but this week I was reminded once again that I tend to think ahead just a little TOO much. Just like an amazing vacation, I don’t need to know exactly where I’m going all the time. I can just enjoy the journey and see where things go. I tend to worry and then I worry that worry too much! A friend reminded me last week that it’s not a bad thing to consider the consequences of my actions, to take into account how what I want to do will affect my family. I just need to find a healthy balance.
Thing I’m reading:The Economist magazine. Twenty-four hour immediate news and its commentary was starting to drive me mad, so I left it. I rarely watch TV news, unless I’m just in a funk and want to revel in being annoyed. And I’ve unfollowed any news sources on social media since that’s not news, that’s just a rumor mill. But I still need to know what’s going on in the world, so I decided to BUY a PRINTED weekly magazine subscription. I know! $120 a year is cheap for peace, let me tell you.
I love this magazine for two reasons. (I just realized I say “for two reasons” quite often.) First of all, at the front it has “The world this week: Politics and Business.” It’s a few pages of bulleted small paragraphs just summing up events. Great for reading over breakfast or lunch, much like a newspaper. Second are all the longer articles throughout the magazine. Those are the ones I read throughout the week during my coffee breaks.
I love having the magazine in print instead of online because I’m not tempted to scoot over and see if someone liked my picture of the dog or scroll down and read the comments. And the articles aren’t chosen by me or a social media algorithm, so I get a much greater variety of input. Some articles I strongly disagree with and some are about things I didn’t even know existed.
Honestly people, there isn’t much national or international news that you have to have at the moment it’s happening. It only causes stress. Yes, I should keep up on some politics and world news, but there nothing immediate that I need to do about North Korea or what President Trump just tweeted. A raw food diet may be better for you body, but a raw news diet is not. I say bring back the weekly printed news and leave social media for socializing and TV for entertainment!
Any suggestions of other magazines I could subscribe to would be greatly appreciated!
Thing I heard: The quail circus has been in town recently! “What in the world is the Quail Circus,” you ask? It’s what I hear outside my window when a family of quail are nearby. Their squeaks and chirps, their scratching, coos, and flutters. It always reminds me of the acrobats at a circus. I don’t always see them, but hearing them in the bushes or out by the low water dish I leave out for them, makes me smile. I could sit and listen for hours.
Thing I want to do: Get professional pictures done of me out here in the desert for this blog and for my book. Why does that freak me out?
Tequila! It may sound strange, but tequila is amazing. I just discovered the glories of it this past year and have started to become a bit of a connoisseur of it. It all started with a free margarita, a real one, not a blended strawberry one with a just a splash of the cheap stuff. A strong one with good tequila, a rim of salt, and on the rocks. Damn it was good. I never would have ordered one, but a friend bought me one after a long afternoon of work and it was glorious. I’ve ordered them ever since. Somehow it has morphed into straight tequila and now I’ve gotten into trying different brands. My latest love is Casamigos Reposado. This stuff…wow…so tasty. One shot, iced up, no salt. It’s the perfect end to a great week!
Cheers to you, my lovely readers! Enjoy your weekend!
“Paul Simon: the life” by Robert Hilburn was one of the few books I’ve started to read but did not finish. I stopped reading about 2/3 of the way through, not because it wasn’t good but because I just lost interest in the story and I have too many other books to read.
Everyone loves Simon & Garfunkel music. I grew up hearing it on the radio and my Mom had a few vinyl albums that my brother and I would play occasionally. I had a vague memory that they broke up and Paul Simon had a solo career. Chevy Chase in the music video for “You Can Call Me Al” was about all I knew about Paul Simon in my teens since MTV was a big thing to me back then. That’s the last I really thought about him until my sons started playing Simon & Garfunkel albums.
I’m not sure how they came across it but suddenly their first albums started showing up on our MP3 player in the truck. It was probably my husband’s idea. When the boys started learning to play guitar, those were some of the first songs they learned to play. It made for a very peaceful house. When you’re learning you tend to play the same parts over and over again. Everyone has those cringing moments when their kids pick up new instruments and have to practice. I missed out on that feeling. I never minded how much they sat and played, alone or together. I never needed a radio!
The only solo album I knew of was Graceland. We picked it up at the music store one day on a whim and I loved every minute of it right from the start and still play it often. Paul Simon doesn’t make a bad song.
So when I saw this book laying on the biography table at the book store a few months ago, even though I had my allotted number of books already in my arms, I picked it up. I love biographies of famous people and I’d love to know more about Paul Simon. I wasn’t disappointed.
Reading about his early life, how he got started, his relationship with Art Garfunkel, it was all fascinating. Famous musicians acting like real people, like everyone else in the world. I think I liked it most because I could hear the songs from the albums in my head as I read. The stories behind the songs, what was going on in his life and the world that inspired them, it all merged together with the music in my head.
Something that really resonated with me, especially right now, was that he never set out to write a song about a specific thing, he wrote what was in his heart. He didn’t think, “You know..wow..that seems really important. I think I’ll write a song about it.” He just felt lyrics and poured them out, then wrote the music to match it. I loved how he brought little things he noticed into the songs. He is an artist.
I was also fascinated reading about record promotion and deals, how songs got on the radio, and how they became popular. It reminds me that we need to keep creating our art. That people know it, love it, and buy it isn’t the point at all. There’s so much beauty out there. We can’t see or hear it all. What comes to our attention isn’t the best of the best, it’s just what one record company thinks it can make money on. It’s one producer’s vision of great. The artist? Well there are millions of us out there making tons and tons of wonderful art.
Something that I’ve always wondered is why famous people tend to have so many problems. Paul Simon was no stranger to pain and suffering, mostly, it seems, brought on by his own actions. Everyone wants to be seen and heard. We spend our lives making a space for ourselves. Some of us do it in quiet ways. Some of us want to be in the limelight. We all want recognition for our efforts. Those of us that crave the limelight though…when we get it, many times it does terrible things to us. It feeds a monster and we spend our lives fighting it, knowing in our hearts that we invited the trouble. Paul Simon, from this book, seems to have fought that fight too. Once we have the fame, we want more. It’s an addiction that we self-medicate to maintain if we need to.
The truth is, even if no one had heard of Paul Simon, even if only his friends and family and the local bar had only heard his songs, he’d still be brilliant. His art is there pouring out of him, regardless of record sales and awards. The fame and the money seem to cause the problems. Or do they exaggerate the problems we already have?
I loved this bit too, speaking of his mother and how she responded to his teachers saying he was a bit of a dreamer and needed to pay more attention in class, ““I think she understood that the ones who are looking out the window are sometimes your best students, not the ones who always raise their hand and want attention,” Paul said. “I always thought that was embarrassing. I wanted attention, too, but I didn’t want to be seen as wanting it. I wanted it to come naturally, by doing something that warranted it, rather than me manipulating people to look at me.” … He wasn’t interested in being a showman; all he cared about was playing the music.”
This is how I feel about writing and the marketing crap I’m encourage to do on social media. I’d rather be quietly writing away and producing better and better posts, than creating sharable content. I don’t want to sit there with my hand up, jumping out of my seat. “Pick me! Pick me!” I want people to be interested in my art because of its qualities, not because of my marketing skills.
Another wonderful book finished and sitting in my collection! I love reading so many different kinds of books for no other reason than they look interesting. You never know what little bits you’ll find to help you on your own journey. It doesn’t matter what kind of book it is or what the subject matter is. Fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, biography, history, self-help, it really doesn’t make a difference. Every book I pick up has something in it I need and I never know what it is until I read it.
Sometimes I think I should curate my reading list a bit better, maybe put some effort into deciding which books to read and when. There is only so much time in a day and so many books out there. I can’t read them all, so maybe being a bit more picky would be more efficient. But then how do I even start to decide? That process seems so time consuming and my current system has served me well already. So I continue on my way, picking up and reading whatever comes across my path. I do have one rule about reading though. I have to like it. If I’m not liking it, if it’s not holding my interest, I move on, even if I bought it new. Books you don’t enjoy are the ultimate waste of time!
This book…it was enjoyable, very much so, but it was no longer serving me. I got what I needed. I was full, so I left the table.
It wasn’t because it was a holiday the night before…or wait…maybe it was. July 3rd and 4th were pretty darn fun in all the best kinds of ways: food, friends, good times. On Friday morning, I wasn’t sure if all the fun caught up to me or I had caught a virus. It could very well be that I caught a virus because the fun caught up to me. I woke up with a terrible sore throat and a fever and spent the next three days in bed reading a book. Oh! Poor me! If it weren’t for the worst sore throat and ear infection ever, I would have called it a “retreat.” Thanks to our fabulous urgent care and the miracle of antibiotics, I was still exhausted but up and at ‘em again on Monday! I’ll still have a sexy gravely voice for a week, but I’ll take it! The upside is that I finished three-quarters of “Under the Dome” over the weekend!
While I was laying in bed…dying…I considered getting up and writing my Friday post, but then thought better of it. I’ll just catch up later, I thought. I’ll be better tomorrow. And then suddenly it was Tuesday.
So here I am. You can’t catch up with life anyway, you can only pick up where you are!
Happy Friday, everyone! Hope your weekend is filled with adventure…even if you’re watching it on Netflix!
Thing I learned: There are amazingly interesting people on the internet! I joined a new Facebook group this week and have been devouring all its content for days. The people! Wow! So many interesting points of view, so many ideas, so much love and interest in being kind and supportive. It’s kinda hard not to invite them all over for coffee! I hear so much negativity about people on the internet, and I do understand it, but I have a feeling we’ve all been adjusting to the new medium and we’ll come out the other side a bit scarred from battle but wiser for the wear.
Thing I’m reading:“The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters” by Tom Nichols. Ok. First of all, just the title of this book irritates me. And then when I started to read it, I started to better understand the idea of term “triggered.” Which made me want to read it more! He has some seriously great points to make and I’m understanding something about myself that I don’t like. I’m one of those “don’t tell me what to do” people and sometimes it’s not good for me or the people around me. One thing I started to think while reading it is that specialization is a good thing for society. I agree that division of labor makes everyone’s lives easier. We can’t all be experts at everything! But what do we do when lose trust in just about everyone around us? I’m hoping he has some answers to that by the end of this book!
Thing I heard: A new friend introduced me to a new bluegrass band, and while I’ve never been a big fan of the genre, this was interesting enough for me to listen to a whole album, “Yoder Mountain String Band.” Lucky for me, I have Amazon Music, so I downloaded a couple albums and have been snacking on their tunes as I drive the desert roads.
Thing I want to do: Focus! Oh, lord, please help me focus! Ever since I got back from our vacation, I feel like I’m in a million places at once; like a kid in a candy store, rushing from one bin to the next, shoving every piece into my mouth, my pockets, my bag, and running out before someone tells me no! What am I going to do about it? No idea. A friend shared a picture on Facebook yesterday that I was totally going to post myself and now I can’t because it will look like I’m just copying him! But I digress, again. The picture was simple, “Temporarily Closed for Spiritual Maintenance.” That’s what I need to do, close. I need to shut down social media, turn off my phone, and do some serious re-focusing. But then again, do I really need to? Maybe next week! At the moment, I’m having to much fun to change anything.
Picture of the week:
This was unexpected! I’ve been trying to post one picture on Instagram every day. Why? No idea. It just seemed like fun. So, the sun was starting to go down and I hadn’t taken a good one that day and I went out into the yard looking for a subject. My yard is a wealth of photo subjects!
Right outside was a birdhouse my Mom and brought over years ago. I had stuck it up in the crook of a Joshua Tree. I seriously doubt any respectable bird would ever make his home there, but it looks pretty sitting there. It’s above my head, but I didn’t bother to get a step and try to take a good picture. I just lifted my phone over my head, pointed it in the approximate angle of the front door, and snapped. I came inside (out of this blasted heat) and posted it on IG. Done!
Here’s the funny part. A few minutes later, a friend commented “Inhabited! Excellent!” What was she talking about? I opened the picture and zoomed to find…a lizard staring out the front door! What?! Another friend said I should call it a “Beardie House.” It was hilarious and adorable!
There has to be some philosophical thing to learn here. Right? We really don’t know what we’re doing when we do it most times. We just point and shoot and share…who knows what magic we’ll find! But what if I hadn’t decided to post a picture a day? Or what if I was just decided, eh…who cares…I’ll skip it today?