Counted Among the Crazy

As you may or may not know and as you may or may not care, I miscounted the books left to go in my Book Lust Challenge. I had previously decided I was going to embrace the new number and move on. Obviously, I didn’t embrace and I haven’t moved on. I am still trying to figure out how I miscounted. But. But! But, in that figuring out, I think I’m beginning to get answers. Go figure.

The root of the problem lies in what was indexed. Across all three Book Lusts the editors were not consistent with what information should be included. In Book Lust any book mentioned in the introduction was not included in the index. Full titles were not listed. A lot of the poetry and short stories were missed. In all, there were over 140 mistakes in the index of Book Lust. Now, let’s look at More Book Lust. 18 titles didn’t make it into the index and most of those were either poetry or short stories. Full titles were included (unlike Book Lust). In Book Lust To Go instead of missing information there was an overabundance of information. For starters, take the titles Le Marriage and Le Divorce. These two titles are indexed twice – once under L for Le and once under M and D for Marriage and Divorce, respectively. Two titles, four entries in the index. Duh. Another issue – only in Book Lust To Go is the series title indexed along with the individual books within the series. Example: Kristen Lavransdatter is the name of the series and it is composed of The Cross, The Wife, and The Wreath. Three books, four entries in the index. Interestingly enough, Kristen Lavransdatter is also indexed in More Book Lust but only by the series title. There is no mention of The Cross, The Wife or The Wreath. Surprise! Bottom line, I don’t really know how many individual titles I have to read. Meh.

So, as you can see (clear as mud) I am trying to sort out the titles. This is going to take some time. I’ll try not to go crazy.


We Interrupt This Book

I’m not sure how to say this so I’m just going to come right out and say it. I fukced up. Somehow, in some way, I screwed up my Challenge list. I don’t even know how I figured out something had gone horribly awry. All I know is this- dozens of books from Book Lust To Go didn’t make it onto my lists, and believe me, there are a few. I am the queen of lists. I have a double no, triple no, quadruple no, quintuple-check system for keeping my books in order. Behold:

  1. First there is the excel spreadsheet called “Twist List.” It has every single title from all three Lust books. This spreadsheet is alphabetically tabbed and each title is color coded for which Book Lust it came from (white for Book Lust, light green for More Book Lust, light turquoise for Book Lust To Go, dark green for both Book Lust and another Lust book, brown for More Book Lust and another Lust book, dark turquoise for Book Lust To Go and another Lust book, and purple for when I finish the title).
  2. Then, there is a spreadsheet called “Lust To Go List.” It’s the same alphabetically tabbed list as Twist only it’s not color coded and when I finish a book it simply gets deleted from the list. It’s literally a list what I have left to read.
  3. The third spreadsheet is called “Schedule Calendar” and it is all the titles from all three Lust books organized by the month I plan to read them in. Each month gets its own tab: Jan, Feb, Mar and so on.
  4. The fourth and penultimate check system is the “Chapter List.” Each Lust book has its own spreadsheet broken out by chapter. Think of it this way: it’s the index of Book Lust et al in excel spreadsheets. Example: Once I finish a book in the chapter “Montana: the Big Sky Country” (Book Lust p 156), for example, I color code the title. At a glance I cen see I read three titles and there are ten more left to read.
  5. The fifth and final check is not a spreadsheet. It’s actually my LibraryThing account. Every book I have to read is in my “catalog” and tagged “accomplished” when I have read it.

I know, I know. It’s complicated. But, it works. So. Back to my dilemma. Somehow I realized that whole chapters of Book Lust To Go didn’t make it onto the first two lists. I’m not sure how that happened. It kills me to say my comprehensive reading list is not so comprehensive. How to fix this mess? Right now I am systematically (read=painfully) going through Book Lust To Go‘s index and checking the titles against Twist and Lust To Go. I’m up to ‘M’ and I’m adding titles where necessary (and that’s the part that REALLY kills me). Sometimes I only need to add a title to Twist and not To Go. Not sure what happened there, but whatever. Occasionally, I have been checking LibraryThing to see if I included the missing title in my catalog. Nine times out of ten the title is there, so I’m not going to worry too much about that. The lists I haven’t checked (yet) are the Schedule Calendar and the Chapter list. I’ll cross those bridges later. For now, I have enough titles mapped out that I won’t miss the missing…if that makes sense. Watch – I’ll probably end up reading nothing but books on Hong Kong at the bitter end because that’s one of the chapters I completely missed. Oh well.


August ’11 was…

Why is it that when the days and long and the weather is nice we gravitate towards “chick lit” and “beach reads” and other torpor-inducing dribble? I’m being harsh. Not to the authors but to myself. It seems like this summer had me submerged in silly. See for yourself.  These are the books I had within my reach. First, what I predicted I would read:

  • Daughters of Fortune by Isabel Allende. Allende’s birth month is in August so reading this made sense. Read in three days.
  • While I was Out by Sue Miller. Something I picked up while I was on the island. Read in two days.
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Got extremely bored with this.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Read in one day and scared the bejeezus out of me.
  • Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer. I’m still reeling from this one. Only because in it I recognized a relationship I wrecked. Hard to read about yourself sometimes. It got to me – so much so that I plan a “confessional” blog about it on the other site. Just need to drum up the courage to write it…

Now for the books I didn’t plan to read yet picked up along the way:

  • Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan. Read in a few days. This was decent. I just wish it wasn’t all about finding a fine man and getting laid…
  • Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. I’m thrilled this was on the Challenge list simple because it made me go back to Natalie’s version of “Land of Nod” and really listen to it. Beautiful.
  • The Moffats by Eleanor Estes. I read this one during Hurricane Irene -only a few hours. I needed something simple to keep me company while I filled water bottles and worried about the ginormous maple outside my picture window.
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. Probably my least favorite book of the bunch simply because I couldn’t understand the morality of the heroine of the story. The scene where Becky lies on her resume about speaking Finnish made me cringe. I was embarrassed for her.

I was able to snag one book for LibraryThing’s Early Review program: Call Me When You Land by Michael Schiavone. This had the potential to be something special. I really liked the storyline. It was the basic character development that had me reaching for more.

So. That was August. Not really impressive. No nonfiction. Nothing to set the house on fire. Maybe September will see something special.


Hoarder

I have gotten obsessed with the show, ‘Hoarders’ on A&E (at least I think it’s A&E…). It’s all about people who collect and keep things until the things control their lives. It’s rather scary, but I watch the show to encourage me & myself to take a keen eye to our own clutter. Books, hair clips, shoes, casserole dishes, letters, hotel lotions, charity walk t-shirts. It all starts to pile up after awhile. Loss of control isn’t all that out of the ordinary.

I’m feeling a little disheveled when it comes to the Book Challenge. Old blogs aren’t filed properly. They don’t follow format and are missing valuable tags. There is no order to the older stuff. At the same time, I have the sudden obsession to call Ms. Pearl out on a few things. Like, why are (nearly) whole chapters in More Book Lust made up of books already listed in Book Lust? There are over 100 titles listed in both books. Some have triple or even quadruple mentions.

In an effort to organize this whole project I am taking a closer look at all of the older book review blogs. I am cleaning up tags (and adding missing ones), including a BookLust Twist to the really old posts, and taking note of repeat titles. I realize this is going to be really annoying for anyone with an RSS feed to this blog. You’ll think I’m writing up a storm when really, all that’s happening is an update here or there. I am really, really sorry about that. I just need a little mis en place in my life.


Bite Me

goddessI think nine times out of ten people are cruel because they have something better to say…but they can’t think of it at the moment. Can’t think on their feet so they act like a heel. They have to be funnier than kind. Hurtful is hilarious and sweet is just plain silly. I think nine times out of ten people are critical because they are jealous. They don’t want to admit to being lacking or without. Just because they can. What does it take for someone to see the riches in life without making comparisons? It takes a tragedy to recognize a triumph.

And now for something completely different.

Thank you for making me smile. Thank you for taking me out of my funk. I am glad I agreed to go. I’m glad you were there to greet me. Here’s the thing. I don’t say it enough but I value every minute of your time. I don’t take advantage of that time everytime but you inspire me just the same. Even if I only take ten minutes I am so much the better for it. Really. In the here and now I am on the other side of jumping. I think I have even started to climb down from the ledge. I think I’m close enough to the ground to stand on my own two feet. Soon. But, but. But! I still need you and your smile. I still need to know you are there. Even if I decide to jump after all.


Talking Too Much

I have learned a valuable  lesson. When I say This. Stays. Between. Us. the words strung together to form a directive don’t matter. It’s almost as if you take the words as a euphemism for something else. What I say doesn’t mean sh!t. It’s almost as if you don’t trust what I’m telling you; so you do the exact opposite of what I ask. I feel like I am speaking a foreign language. But, here’s the thing: I get it. You want to be in the know. Knowing it all is your power. It’s your vice. You hate to be wrong, you love to be perfect. You need to run to those less knowing and share your information – holding the Guess What! over their heads. I get it. You can’t help it. Not in the least. This is a turning point. At least for me. I know what I need to do. It’s my turn to be didactic towards myself and moi. Shut the door, shut the mouth. Be more military. Have that attitude. What you don’t know can’t hurt you. Or me.


Left a Little Smaller

I don’t know how to take this new feeling. I’m not jealous. Just feeling misplaced a little. He didn’t ask if I wanted to see Virginia, the place for lovers. I wasn’t invited to drink bad mountain beer in a mile high town – either time. Fenway was phishy without fanfare from me. Is it my fault? Has it been my bad? Have I said no so many times that I’m no longer considered interested or, or more sobering thought:  it is that I’m no longer interesting? Did I say what I was thinking out loud? Did I admit to what I was struggling with all long?

I ran across a face I didn’t recognize right away. I had to stare. Still couldn’t believe it. Had to close my eyes to reconcile the difference in order to make the connection. Recognition came easier when I turned away completely. Was I really a person of interest to this person? Did I really capture the mind if not the heart? I can’t imagine what we talked about. What would we say now? I’m left a little smaller not even knowing who I was then or what I’ve become now.

I drank a whole bottle of wine and hung up the phone giddy and drunk. I was a mess but I didn’t care. No one noticed I didn’t brush my teeth. Left my contacts in. Passed out without a passing thought. No one cared. I woke up ready to run away. Run for miles and miles. No one noticed my energy. Maybe this whine is a good thing. Maybe there’s something to the bottle being your best friend. I’m left a little smaller for considering the thought. I made blueberry muffins instead.

“Did I drive you away? I know what you’ll say.” ~Coldplay


Learning to Say IT

no whining
I had to say no several times yesterday. What a weird concept. Usually I skirt around the issue, not wanting to come right out with not participating. How liberating, how honest to just say no. Not now. Nope. Why haven’t I thought about this before? Why haven’t I dared?

In the case of the work whiners it was easiest when I could look at the time and say we need to continue this tomorrow. My charges? To find out what makes some so damn inefficient. Easier said than done. No Grace under pressure. I had to admire this one administrator. In mid-sentence she was told she needed to be somewhere else. It didn’t ruin her day. It didn’t ruin her attitude. She was able to slide over to a new way of thinking. When I asked her how she managed she looked at me and deadpanned, “interruption is not a word in my vocabulary.” I love it. Word to the wise. Wise up.

It’s harder to say no to friends. I had plans to get together with someone who really means a lot to me. Yet, I need to stay on my training schedule. I couldn’t have done both successfully. It bothered me that the training won out. It bothered me to have to tell her no. After all, she is my inspiration. She is my hero. Yet, I put her off, hero or not. This is the way it had to be. No, I said. I need to train. Her graceful acceptance allowed me to walk nine miles. I got it done because I didn’t give in.

Later, an invitation to chat. Under any other circumstances I would have loved sparring with this flirty friend. He’s quick with the compliments and quicker with the innuendos. I love the sass. I love the challenge this conversation always presents to me. Who can be the most indulgent, the most daring? But, sigh of all sighs, I had to tell him and his innuendos no. I needed a warm bath and a hot cup of tea. As I let the water wrap itself around my tired legs I thought about this new no I seem to have. While I don’t necessary like it or want it, it works for now. For now.


Broken Beautiful

I was invited to a Girls’ Night In last Friday. It sounded amazing. Pedicures, manicures, massage, pampering, girly time. Despite the temptation of all those pedicures and manicures I concentrated on another cure. By 5:30pm I was hitting the streets training for Just ‘Cause. I don’t think I can call walking “training” without a little smile on my face, but after five miles my hips told me differently. They gently reminded me I may not be able to finish twenty let alone times three. Doesn’t matter. I’m here for the cure. I’m broken but I’m still beautiful.

The Sunday sunshine saw me out again. This time I had kisa drop me off at the public library. I’d walk home from there. 5.5 miles if I did it right. I’m noticing my new neighborhood. My new town is beautiful but in a very broken way. Bottles dropped by alcoholics who have had more than their share. Gamblers casting off their loser scratch cards by the hundreds. Flattened things. Unrecognizable things. Dirty things. Things that make my eyes slide away. My favorite moment: a young cat peers out from under a sodden, mangled box with worry in his eyes. I smile with conspiracy. Have no fear. I won’t give you away. Stay stone still and no one will take you away to anywhere. We will walk on by. Promise.

I have decided there are more important things than worrying about what everyone else is doing. I watch people become sulky and sullen when they don’t get what they want and I’ve decided it’s none of their business anyway. Instead, I will pour my energy into something more worthwhile. Petty you is not pretty to me. Everyone will be in for a shock. Maybe I’ll get that pedicure after all. In pink. Then I can say I am living it right. Broken, but beyond beautiful.


Cancer Come Get Me

Carver, Raymond. “What the Doctor Said.” All of Us, New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 2000.

“What the Doctor Said” is about a patient receiving word from his (?) doctor that he has cancer, a cancer so lethal the doctor “stopped counting” the tumors on one lung. You can’t pray but it won’t make a difference. It’s heart breaking and stark. The message is beyond clear. You. Are. Going. To. Die. No bones about it. No hope. No cure. No way out. Imagine that. You are D-E-A-D.

This poem is perfect timing for me. I have mentioned before I have signed up for a cancer walk. 60 miles in three days. The attitude is yeah-yeah another charity. I’ve even gotten an eye roll. I hear the words: So what? Big freakin’ deal. I shouldn’t take it personally, but it still amazes me. No one has asked how they can help. No one has asked ‘how can we donate to the cause?’ They can’t wrap their brains around the fact that this walk could save a life. This walk, this dollar donated might make a difference. It’s amazing. It’s as if the world has become cynical enough to say “you won’t make a difference so I won’t throw my money away.”

What happens when you get a life threatening illness? What happens when you are told you will die? How does it make you feel to have someone say it won’t help you? The attitude is “so why don’t you go ahead and die? It will be painful but just die because I can’t make a difference. I won’t make a difference.”

Drives me nuts.


Blind Faith

peaceWhat exactly does that mean, blind faith? Is it stupid trust? Is it unknowing confidence? Is it naive hope? What does it mean to have blind faith in something you don’t believe in? Such are the questions. Where are the answers? I am too headstrong for reasoning.

You accused me of something so blind, so stupid, so unknowing and naive. Where was the faith? The trust? The confidence? The hope that I would never steer you wrong. To do you wrong is to do an army of people wrong. Don’t get me wrong, but an army of people more precious than what I mean to you. That might not be saying much, but that’s what I mean without saying too much.

I have given up trying to be meaner than how angry I really am. It’s like too sweet frosting on a cake made without sugar. The compensation just doesn’t cut it. Proportionally, it doesn’t make sense. At the end of the day I find myself not really caring. That’s not mean, just real. Why get fired up over something I have no fire for? It’s like the person who hates without knowing. Hating just because it seems like the right easy thing to do. In the end, when it’s all said and done, was that hate worth anything to the hater? Not really sure. Wasted energy some would say. For a life too short, I would add.

What exactly am I trying to say? I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll never know. This is what came to mind when I thought about you. This is what popped out when I opened my mind to think. So, in the spirit of blind faith I say have faith no more. “Open up your eyes. See me for what I am. Cast in iron I won’t break and I won’t bend.” ~ Headstrong, 10,000 Maniacs.  Words by Natalie Merchant.


Can’t Explain

This guy looks like he wants to talk to me. I could sense him leaning on the bar, leaning closer, trying to catch my eye. My friend had asked if I would be okay while she smoked and even though I want to save her lungs and say no, I nod. Really, truthfully, I am nervous knowing he might try to talk to me as soon as she is gone. It has taken me four songs to decide I’m deaf in this rock and roll soaked bar. The bass pulsates under my feet, the drums vibrates my spine. I feel the music and it drowns out my ears. The guy inches closer. Please don’t talk to me because I won’t be able to figure out what you are saying. I won’t even read your lips. Please don’t stand so close to me. I flash a golden wedding ring and turn a cold shoulder. Not confident I pull out my phone and start a wordy conversation. Can I tell him I’m avoiding getting hit on? Can I tell him I’m using him to ignore the subtle advances of another? I didn’t mean to talk to him or him. I wasn’t going to go there because I promised myself I would leave well enough alone. He and they are well enough and I need to be left alone.
My friend returns and the music gets louder. I sip my wine and look casual and in control. Despite myself I keep talking to my phone. Like a drug I cannot stop. I am confident with him because I can ignore everything else. It’s a game we play. Lying. For good measure I send another message. Suddenly, this guy is tapping my shoulder and mouthing something under the music. I shake my head. I don’t understand you just like I knew I wouldn’t. He says it again. Something about do you dance? I don’t. No, I don’t. Not anymore. I am rooted to my barstool. My wine glass is stuck in my hand. I tap my ring against the glass and turn away.


Magic is Coming

Sean Magic
I have been known to get lazy, to get uninspired, to get quiet, withdraw and quietly disappear. When that happens nothing wakes me, nothing moves me, nothing touches me, nothing makes me anything. Period. Such was my complacent situation recently. People would text. I would untext right back. People would call. I wouldn’t hang up because I didn’t pick up. Invitations would come in. My silence would go right back out. It’s not that I wanted to ignore you. It’s just that I couldn’t help myself. You didn’t need me. And I knew it.

Today is a whole new day. the sun is shining. The clouds have blown away. I not only accepted an invitation I made one of my own. And Magic is coming. For those of you who don’t know, Magic is the name of Sean Rowe’s newest album. Long, long, long anticipated album, I should say. I have been looking forward to this since forever. Forever and a day. Now, it has a drop date. It has an estimated time of arrival. Soon it will be here. Here’s the tracklist (and to think I almost said setlist – don’t I wish):

  1. Surprise
  2. Time to Think
  3. Night
  4. Jonathan
  5. Old Black Dodge
  6. Wet
  7. The Walker
  8. American
  9. Wrong Side of the Bed
  10. The Long Haul

I have to tell you, Jonathan and Wet are my two favorites. Not that I don’t appreciate everything else on the album. I do, I do. (Wrong Side of the Bed and Surprise are my very-close-to-favorite-but-still-second fav songs). It’s just that Wet leaves me breathless and now, having heard the studio version of Jonathan I have chills. Chills and goosebumps to be specific. That song alone is magic. Pure magic. Never mind what happens when it’s more than just the song alone. I don’t want to focus on the singer when the songwriting is more than brilliant, more than amazing. As always, it’s the words that get me, the words that keep me.

I know for a fact I am clearing my schedule for 5/15/09 and 5/23/09 – two Sean gigs “locally.” I have had an awakening. Thanks, Sean.


Just Like You

I met someone today who blew me away. Picked me up, spun me around like a hurricane and got me going in the right direction again. As everyone knows it’s far too easy for me to be angry, to hate, to be glass half empty (and cracked). Far too easy for me to be Negative Nelly. Bitchy bitchy bitch bitch. Then came him and the hurricane. Here’s how it went. I complained, he came back with compassion. I bitched, his was a brighter view. I ranted, he rallied. I was negative, he said never say never. I smirked, he smiled. Back and forth we sparred.

Take this story – I have a hanger-on. Someone who just won’t go away. I was feeling cynical and snide. Loved to be evil, warming up to the hellish conclusion. When I was done I thought he would agree. I thought he would share in my negativity. Instead, he smiled. Smiled and offered me this HaveYouThoughtAboutThisWay? different angle. He cocked his head to the side and said, “from everything you told me I can’t see what the big deal is. I don’t know Your Problem so I can’t judge except to say I don’t see the problem.” It’s the “I don’t know…so I can’t judge…” part that got me. Why am I quick to say weird? Why am I eager to say wrong? Exactly what is the problem?

I’m sorry I have been so mean to you when you weren’t looking. I’m sorry I painted a bad picture when really you are a masterpiece. I’m sorry to have confused you with something sinister. I take it back.

To my new friend. Thank you for being compassionate. For being caring without knowing. For listening to me judge without a jury. While you drove me crazy with your “to be fair” sentence starters I see where you are coming from. And to be fair, I want to be just like you.


Guilty Feelings

“I’m guilty just the same.
Sometimes you’re needed badly so please come back again…”
~Duran Duran Hold Back the Rain

The last month has been a weird sort of hell. While the house has been awesome, getting settled hasn’t been all that fun. We are still moving out at the same time as moving in. Still. We are still living out of boxes. Still. Yeah, yeah. Don’t tell me because I’ve heard it before. These Things Take Time. I should be wearing the words as a slogan across my chest. Or tattooed on my forehead. Something. Yeah, yeah. I know the words. It’s not like I haven’t moved (17 times) before. My frustration lies in the lack of time I have to dedicate. It takes time but I have no time to donate.

Last week They were on campus. They are the same They I talked about in my Entitled to Tell You So blog. They stormed the gates again and this time I took it personally. Here’s another yeah yeah moment. I KNOW they weren’t talking about MY job performance. I KNOW they weren’t talking about ME when the listed the library as a concern, as a weakness to the institution. Nothing they announced was new. So, why do I take it so personally? I’ll tell you why. I have been busting my azz to say We Need This- We Need That. My words went nowhere. But, talk is cheap. Words are well, just words. think of all those sayings – put your money where your mouth is, talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words…blahblahblah. I felt like I was screaming into the wind when I should have been learning to harness that wind and fly. DO something.

I have stressed so much about the upcoming, inevitable failings that I have blown off friends and family. I owe my mother a phone call. I owe my nephew an apology. I owe just as much as I woe. My head has been up my azz looking for the sh!t that makes work work. If that makes any sense. Because now that it’s done I feel dumb. I worried for nothing because They didn’t tell me anything new, nothing I didn’t already know.

Now it’s done. I’m done with the rant, too. I got it out. I got over it. Now, it’s time to do something. It’s time to start flying.