I Guess That’s Kinda True

My husband watches tv in the morning, sometimes GMA sometimes The Today Show. I have to listen to this crap. This morning on The Today Show I overheard a book review, a portion of it went like this: ““There’s a curse set upon the grandmother of this family and therefore any of the women who come after her are not able to fall in love. In fact, the men that fall in love with them will die,” she continues.” (Source)

“What the hell?” I said “that sounds exactly like premise of “The Practical Magic” series. How could they publish that? That’s annoying”

“It doesn’t bother me” said my husband ” doesn’t annoy me at all”

“Well it annoys me” said I.

“Everything annoys you – eventually” was my husband’s comment.

And you know, he’s right. Eventually everything will annoy me including things that I, at first, liked, enjoyed, approved of.

I often say that I have the attention span of a two-year old. Perhaps that’s the basis of my fluctuating annoyance levels…

Overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness (and a little glee)

for having been born and brought up in New York City and having the father that I had.  New York City is the entire universe in 300.46 square miles. Thanks to my father I got to experience just about every square foot of it.

How do I keep this short and sweet? It all started this morning, with me being grumpy about some inconsequential shit on the internet that pissed me off and that I couldn’t let go of – ignorant yahoos.

But then I received a New York Times ‘newsletter’ in my email that featured a story about Marvin Gaye singing the national anthem. When I shared it with my husband his reaction was “meh” whereas I was blown away. This led to a discussion about music and the realization that because of where I grew up and with whom I grew up my views and tastes were more far ranging than my husband’s.

And that is due to my father.

I know of people who have lived for several generations in New York City and know jack-all about what’s there. So sad.

As soon as we were toilet trained and had acquired manners my father took us to every single museum in NYC.  Not just the art museums but the numismatic museum down on Wall Street, all sorts of museums covering every topic imaginable.  He took us to white-tablecloth restaurants; to the theater.

And yes to the zoo, the botanical gardens, the planetarium, the circus,the rodeo, the horse races, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden – no type of sport was left out – we were introduced to it, if only as spectators.

At home we were surrounded by music of every form and format. And books – my father came from a family of readers – anything with print on it was perused.

Music? Oh my word – there was ALWAYS music. And NYC, being NYC, you could twirl your way around the radio dial and there was no music unrepresented. There was no culture unrepresented. There were radio stations that broadcast in languages other than English.

So much popular music originated in NYC – doo-wop, rap, beatbox, hip-hop – we heard it all first. Nothing was banned, nothing was off-limits. You only had to be curious enough to stop and listen.

Food? Oh hell do not tell me anything about food, just don’t. From the mundanity of mashed potatoes to haute cuisine – I ate it. And not the Americanized versions. The real deal.

It wasn’t just that you lived in a city with people of other cultures, you experienced their culture, and they yours because you were in and out of their homes. They were your friends and when we were young we took our differences for granted.

My parent’s friends – all my “Aunts” and “Uncles” – a veritable United Nations.

That’s how I grew up. As an adult my native curiosity took me farther and wider. I’m thinking I got my curiosity from my father –  it’s something people have commented on my whole life – my shrink said “You are the most curious person I have ever met”

How do you not wonder about the world that surrounds you especially when the world you live in is so diverse and strange and magical.

So, yes, right now feeling happy and bouncy and lucky and grateful that I had the father I had, growing up in the city I did and being blessed with a sense of curiosity that leads me down rabbit holes even Alice never dreamed of.

I’m afraid to look…

I have, over the years, waxed ecstatic over books by Elizabeth Strout. Chiefly My Name is Lucy Barton, Olive Kitteridge, and Olive, Again. I love these three books and I have read and re-read them.

Here is a list of books by Elizabeth Strout:

  • Amy and Isabelle (1998)
  • Abide with Me (2006)
  • Olive Kitteridge (2008)
  • The Burgess Boys (2013)
  • My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016)
  • Anything is Possible (2017)
  • Olive, Again (2019)
  • Oh William! (2021)
  • Lucy by the Sea (2022)

I have read all of them. I have liked only the three I mentioned in the first paragraph. The last two were particularly disappointing. Very disappointing. She seems to have acquired a stylistic tic in Oh, William and carried over into Lucy By the Sea that is so annoying and off-putting I wanted to smack someone.

Characters in earlier books show up in later books – the stories are linked (except for the Olive books).  Bob Burgess from The Burgess Boys is all over Lucy By the Sea and quite frankly The Burgess Boys was a total snore and bore. But even Olive is name checked because – wait for it – Lucy Barton is now in Maine.

I don’t care that all her books are linked – and you don’t really have to read them all in order to make sense of them except – the latest two – Oh William and Lucy By The Sea.

Here’s my dilemma – this new style tic – is it really new or did she have it in her other books? It is so annoying to me that I am afraid to go back to the books I loved and find out. Because if this “tic” is not new but was used in her other books then it will totally ruin what I have loved.

Being me I just stopped typing and pulled My Name is Lucy Barton off the bookshelf and leafed through it quickly. I found no evidence of this new style tic but I can see where it was waiting in the wings (so to speak) to make an appearance in these last two books. I would go check Olive, Again since it is more recent than Lucy Barton, but it would break my heart if I found it there.

I’m sure you know that I stopped typing (again) and got Olive, Again off the shelf and started leafing through it. This book is still freakin’ brilliant and I quickly fell under its spell again.

And no style tic was found.

While reading Lucy By the Sea I developed a dislike for Lucy Barton. A dislike that started in Oh William. Turns out I don’t like the person Lucy Barton became, and maybe if I go back to the first Lucy Barton book I will see the seeds of this person who I now dislike.  Isn’t that funny.

In the latest book Strout makes mention that Olive is in an old age home, perhaps suffering from dementia, I don’t remember the detail. Which means Strout can’t write another book about Olive and ruin her for me.

I think I can safely dump all the Elizabeth Strout books I have on my shelf (which is all of them) and just keep the Olive books.

I no longer like Lucy Barton, as a person, or Elizabeth Strout as a writer.

So there –


My heart’s desire

has always been to own a bookstore. I keep myself awake at night planning my shop. Where it will be; what it looks like outside; constantly rearranging the layout inside. I run over in my mind how to set up the legal end of owning a shop and accounting procedures;  how to source books; what kind of computer set-up I will need to track inventory, even what kind of payment I will accept and how to manage that. I worry about all the practical aspects of owning a shop.

The kind of books I will sell? That’s the easy part. I will only sell what I love, what I like. It will be a bookstore doomed to failure because of that. When love is the driving force then failure is a given.

You can’t make someone love something. Regardless of how truly fabulous and wonderful it might be. You can’t take your joy and pour it on someone and expect it to be absorbed, to become their joy.

Yesterday I needed to experience joy. So I started reading, again, for the 4th time, “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin. This book is joy to me. This book is about love. This book is about the love of books. There is something about people who love books .  They are picky, opinionated but devoted and loyal to a fault when they love – be it books or people.

Rory asked in a post this morning “What is your favorite quote and why do you like it so much?”  How could anyone pick just one? If you are a reader then you have so many quotes that transported you, spoke to you on a deeply intimate level, raised you up, comforted you, challenged your perceptions.

If you have neither the time nor the inclination to read “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” then I offer you some of my favorite quotes from the book – share my joy.

“We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on.”

“The words you can’t find, you borrow. We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.”

“My life is in these books. Read these and know my heart. We are not quite novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end we are collected works.”

Miscellaneous Mishegoss

❣ I actually went for a walk – outside  – today.  I meant to turn up Henderson but I turned up Pershing instead which made for a shorter walk.  After 10 years of walking around this neighborhood there’s nothing much to see. The apartment complexes haven’t done any Fall gardening and the single family houses haven’t done any Halloween decorating. It’s kinda blah.

At the rear entrance of my building there are four huge planters that are re-planted several times a year – right now they look like this –

And all that lush greenery will soon be removed and thrown away and something else will be planted. I always think it’s such a waste to throw away healthy plants.

All the apartment complexes around here use the same landscaping service and they all go through this same “throw out healthy plants and put in something new” (and, supposedly, seasonal.)

It does make for pretty looking properties but still – the waste. I feel bad for the plants.

❣ I bought another book! I mean a real, printed, hold in your hands book. I’m supposed to be getting rid of books not acquiring more.

I was a bit disappointed because I thought it would be an updated edition and it’s not. Pooh! The book is “A Small Fiction” and it has a FB page and IG and Twitter accounts.  The only thing on my FB page is excerpts that were posted on their social media but aren’t in the book.  Some of them are really funny, some thoughtful and some make no sense at all. This is my favorite…

Speaking of books – the book I talked about last week, the one I sent to a few friends? They all loved it! Which was a great relief to me, sending a gift a person doesn’t like – that would make me sad.  The book is “All the Colors of Life” by Lisa Aisato.  Here is a short Youtube   video about the book…just a minute and 24 seconds but it will give you an idea of the book and it’s beauty and charm.

❣ The video I posted yesterday – such a beautiful, sad and sweet story. I’ve had it in my Youtube favorites for years and yesterday while I was looking for a song I could have sworn I’d saved, I watched it again and plunked it here because yesterday was a sad day; a weird day, at the end of which I started deleting myself off the interwebz.

I get like that sometimes. I want to erase myself. But this morning I put myself back. Unerased myself.

But today was a good day, as much as any day is a good day.

It’s a stunningly beautiful day

and I shan’t whine about not being able to be out and about.  It’s 85º with 46% humidity, not a cloud in blue skies. Yet my feet are like ice cubes. I actually put socks on when I got dressed this morning and y’all know how much I hate socks!

I have an interesting dilemma. There is an artist I follow on social media. She describes herself as an illustrator; I describe her as a fabulous artist. She happens to be Norwegian and she has just recently had two of her books translated into English and published in the United States. One of the books is a children’s book which I have sent to my granddaughters and one is a picture book for adults which I bought for myself.

I can’t afford her original artwork but I can afford her books.

It’s sitting next to me and that wonderful new book smell is wafting my way. I don’t know what I expected but the book is large (think coffee table book large) and weighs 3.5 pounds! But to appreciate her art indeed it must be this big. There is text – one sentence for each picture – telling the story of life. The art, the story – just overwhelms me. (Ok, maybe I’m easily overwhelmed by beauty.)

I love this book – it is so beautiful. I immediately wanted to send copies to several of my dearest friends. Then I thought “What if they don’t like her art? What if this book is just a another ‘thing’ to clutter up their homes? What if they don’t love this book with it’s simple story as much as I do?”

So that’s my dilemma – send the book because I love it, not taking into consideration what their taste might be, or throw caution to the wind, send the book and they can either curse me or thank me.

I’m pretty sure y’all know what I’m going to do, don’tcha?

Miscellaneous Mishegoss

~ A few weeks ago I got a ‘friend request’ on FB from my elder male sibling – a person I have not been in contact with for over 40 years. I deleted it. I had no idea he knew my married name. I have another FB account with my birth name and never got a bite there. I figured out how he made the connection. No biggie but I thought it was interesting.

~ Just realized as I was typing that today is my father’s birthday – were he alive he would be 107 years old. He died in 1973 – 57 1/2 years old.

~ I often say I have no imagination. I can’t invent a story. I could never write a fiction book. So even if it’s a colossally bad book, badly written, plotted – the whole nine yards of bad – I still have admiration for anyone who can do that. It is NOT easy. So props to people who write fiction.

~ I write about books but I can’t write a decent book review to save my life. I wonder what kind of book reports I wrote when I was in school. I do admire a well written book review, lord knows I read enough of them.

~ While I can’t write fiction I am one hell of a good editor. A blog I read, the person is posting little vignettes – small bits of fiction. Someone decided to comment with a ‘critique’ of one tiny aspect – given the other aspects that could most definitely be adjusted – so to speak – I thought it was funny. My reaction was – “THAT’S what you decided needed work?” Since the blogger didn’t ask for editing advice I found the comment unnecessary. Don’t know why that bothered me and is still on my mind. The blogger was gracious in his response. (No, I didn’t comment at all.)

~ I kid a lot about the whole pumpkin spice thing – come on – it’s funny. I read an article the other day, can’t remember if it was the Post or the Times, that basically said pumpkin spice is now part of the culture so get over yourself. But I just can’t let it go – it does make me laugh.

So I’ll leave you with this –