I ran to Target last week and began stocking up on a few things for the Holidays. As is my custom, I bought three rolls of wrapping paper. I thought nothing of it, except ensuring that the colors coordinated and the paper has the guidelines on the under side to make it easier to cut straight lines.
Heading back from the grocery store this morning, having just bought all the things to cook what I’m contributing to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, I started thinking about that wrapping paper. That’s when it hit me, in my heart. Grief is real and tangible. It is true that the heart can hurt. I realized I had significantly over-bought wrapping paper. I don’t have as many gifts to buy this year. Yes, the same was true last year, but I wasn’t thinking clearly at the Holidays last year. This year, I was on autopilot again.
But it hit. Hard. Almost took my breath away as I was driving down the road. I suppose it never really leaves us. The older I get, the more of my family I lose, the more I miss them. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins. My parents. It makes me love the people I love – blood family or chosen family- a little bit more. It makes me hug longer and hug tighter. It makes me laugh until I cry, because this is all we get. We get these little moments that make up our lives. And one day, it’s remembering those moments with those no longer with us that will knock us over. JK Rowling said it well in the Harry Potter Series- the ones we love never really leave us. I think that’s true. And even though it makes my heart hurt sometimes, I’ll take the moments and the memories over no pain, any day.
To those of you celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, may your travels be safe and your holiday filled with love and laughter. Even if the laughter is only in your head so you don’t start a squabble at the table.
Beth Thomas Cohen’s Drop The Act, It’s Exhausting came to me via a publisher. The book was released on 4 November, and it’s a fun read. Cohen’s mission is to empower women to stop pretending everything is perfect and embrace all the wonderful messiness of our lives. It isn’t really a new message, but it is told in a vibrant “write like you talk” style that makes it an entertaining read.
Cohen is emphatically and unapologetically herself. She doesn’t pull punches in the book- she’s outspoken. And I mean that as a compliment.
This was my favorite passage in the book:
How is it a daring greatly moment to stop hoping? Because when you stop hoping for something, you are actually choosing to believe in yourself and in your own power to make things happen. Wow, to believe in yourself- no doubts, no act necessary, just you and your goal? Is there anything more daring than that?
I actually highlighted the above passage because it hit me square between the eyes. And in my heart. Because she’s right, and even though it might be common sense, it’s what we need to hear sometimes.
The style of the book won’t be for everyone. While I felt like I could be sitting down having coffee with Cohen, some people won’t like the more conversational style of the book. To them I would say, “Take a chance.” Others might not care for some of the salty language. To them I would say, “Get over yourself,” because that’s the authentic me, and because I think we limit ourselves if we read only within our comfort zone.
You should read this book because it celebrates our imperfections. It calls us on our BS. It reminds us to be open-minded and maybe a little nicer and not quite so judgmental. If you read Lean In, read this, too. You should read the book because its tone and message are refreshing. You should read it, because it validates the snarky texts a friend and I share about an acquaintance who only posts on Facebook the things that talk about how wonderful and perfect her life is. You should read it because it made me decide that the next time my client calls me the wrong name, I’m correcting him- because it is, indeed, ok for me to speak up. You should read it because Cohen makes the list of authors that I’d love to have a drink with sometime.
If you know me, or have followed the blog from the beginning, you know that Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite book ever. So when news of the discovery of the Go Set A Watchman manuscript broke, it simultaneously excited and terrified me.
Of course, I promptly pre-ordered a copy when the publication was announced. I stayed away from any reviews, not wanting anything to color my own reading of it. I read it with no small degree of trepidation. I didn’t want it to take away from To Kill A Mockingbird, but the risk of it doing just that was great.
I’ve still not read any other reviews of the book, but I have talked about it with some friends who have also read it, and who read reviews, and I understand they are decidedly mixed. I’m weighing in on the side of those who liked the book.
I made myself separate Watchman from TKAM and read it as a separate work, much like reading JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy and reminding myself it was in no way Harry Potter. The first thing I realized is that Lee’s writing style, her languid southern language, was very much a part of the book, and I was so grateful for that. It’s Lee’s voice that most appealed to me in TKAM and what I enjoy in each re-read of the book.
The second thing I realized is that I had the wrong view of Atticus in TKAM. It wasn’t that Atticus was ahead of his time with race relations in the rural south, but that he had a sense of justice, and solidly defended Tom Robinson because it was the right thing to do. He was in no way doing it to make a statement against a biased justice system.
Scout as an adult is different than I expected, and I had an unexpected better understanding of Aunt Alexandra. Without spoiling, I felt Scout’s disillusionment at the climax of the story was a bit overwrought and overdone. Overall, though, I enjoyed the story and am glad I read it.
I’ve not yet re-read TKAM since finishing Watchman, and I do wonder how or if it will be different for me, having read Watchman.
The last thing I will say is that I hope that Ms. Lee has been treated fairly in this whole process. She’s given us a wonderful legacy with her books, and I would hate to think anyone has taken advantage of that.
I’ve long been fascinated with wise women and the Salem Witch Trials, so Tom was right, this was a book that I enjoyed.
Our heroine, Connie Goodwin, is a PhD candidate determined to complete her doctorate in history. At the behest of her mother, she agrees to sort out her grandmother’s house, readying it for sale. Connie finds a mysterious book by a Deliverance Dane that aids not only in her research, but in unlocking secrets in Connie’s own life.
Set in 1991, but interspersed with snippets of tales from the 1690s and the Salem Witch Trials, the story of Deliverance Dane and her legacy is revealed.
While not a page turner for me, Physick did hold my interest, especially trying to figure out the machinations of Connie’s dissertation sponsor. At times, I found it challenging to decipher the 1690s English, but it did add an authenticity to the flashbacks in the story.
You know there is more to this story as you read it, but Howe reveals them in a way that I didn’t completely see coming, always a nice change of pace. And I love the setting. I could easily picture both old and new Salem as the story unfolded.
The funny thing is, as I was cleaning out bookshelves, I discovered that I had long owned a copy of Physick which for some reason I never read. So Tom was spot on that the book would appeal to me- something made me buy it previously.
Another non-book post. Sorry. The book reviews are coming back soon, I promise. But I want to talk about 9/11. I’ve never been able to talk about it easily, without it taking me to a very dark place, and I was thousands of miles from it.
There will be plenty of “I remember where I was when I heard” discussions today, and I could tell you mine. I can see the room, remember it so clearly. But that is not the part of 9/11 I want to talk about.
I want to talk about the part of 9/11 that haunts me, that I cannot think about too much, that can bring me to tears if I think on it for more than a few minutes. Flight 93. Perhaps it’s because a large part of my professional life has involved airplanes, but it has always been so easy for me to imagine the humanity on that plane.
The people who had heard what had happened in New York, and knew what was about to happen on their plane. To know that there would be no happy ending but deciding to do what they could anyway. Making last minute calls to tell people what was going on. To say goodbye to loved ones. To be on the other end of the phone and suddenly hear only silence and know what that meant. To hope beyond hope that the ending could be anything else, but knowing it couldn’t be.
That kind of courage. That brings me to my knees and makes me hope that if I am ever faced with any similar sort of situation, I’m brave enough to do what the passengers and crew of Flight 93 did. To never be on the other end of that phone call, feeling so helpless but knowing that perhaps you’re giving someone a bit of comfort in their last moments.
We are far from a perfect country, but we rose to our best on that day. Hopefully the day will come when we honor the victims and survivors of 9/11 of being that best every day.