fiction/women’s fiction/alternate versions of some ones life/motherhood
Beach Read +/Book Club –
Lost and Found in Paris
women’s fiction/finding oneself
The Fountains of Silence
fiction/historical fiction- Spain during 1950’s and 1970’s/women’s fiction/multiple viewpoints
Did I Say That Out Loud?
Kristin van Ogtrop
women’s fiction/rom com/marriage
For All the Tea in China
non-fiction/history of Robert Fortune and how he basically started tea in India
Part of Your World
fiction/women’s fiction/rom com/romance
What My Bones Know– Solid memoir about dealing with childhood trauma, how it affects the day to day, how it could effect future generations, and how one woman tried to save herself. Foo writes in an engaging style, and peppers the more complex science with examples from her own life. Foo is a survivor. Kudos to her. A good read for anyone is interested in how the mind works.
Remarkably– I really enjoyed this book, which is a tale of a woman. a young man and an octopus. It’s really a simple tale, as most octopus books tend to be, but I just felt good after reading it, even though the book does deal with some tough issues and feelings. I truly enjoyed the main characters- I felt like I knew them even if they were a tad cliched.
Funny Farm– Woman with abusive Father, and how her strong Mother showed her how to survive, into the eventual owning of a farm in New Jersey with a whole bunch of rescue animals. Some parts make you cringe, some cry, but there’s a whole lot of hope amongst the animal poop
Wuthering Heights– About a million years ago, I read WH. It’s weird rereading it as an adult. The thing I realized most after reading it again, was thinking about how the story is told, through whose eyes. Id forgotten that it’s told in a sort of telephone sort of way- A asks B for the story, B tells the story, but we really see the way B tells the story of how A views the story. How reliable are any of the narrators? That being said, this is a book you either go into knowing that it’s written at a certain time and in a certain place and you accept that, or if you know you can’t accept it, you don’t read it. One of the people in my book club didn’t read but watched the movie, and after hearing us discuss it, was surprised by how much the movie focuses on the love story.
The Measure– One day people awaken to boxes that contain strings that will tell you when you will die. Intriguing concept, right? Alas, this well meaning book is too cute to handle a subject like this. While I like idealism, there’s just a little too much Gee Golly for a book that revolves around death. The author has an agenda- whether you agree with the agenda or not is another thing.
Conversations on Love– It’s literally the author interviewing people about love, and all that accompanies it. There are parts of this book that I think are absolutely brilliant, where I was making e notes in the e margin, and proposing blog questions. There are other parts of the book where it took me a week to read five pages. Some of the POV’s will resonate with you, while others won’t. But, as love is one of the topics I’ve become obsessed with this year, it was right in my wheelhouse.
Fault Lines– OK novel about a women grappling with self identity when living as mother/wife. It took me a bit to get into the story, but it’s well told, if not a little light in parts. My biggest problem was that it’s set in Japan and I didn’t understand some of the cultural aspects, so I wasn’t sure how to relate. If you’ve ever questioned your identity as a person because of traditional female roles/values, you will probably find of interest.
Wrong Place– Decent psych drama, that’s really more centered around Mother love and it’s power. There is an obvious plot problem that I can’t quite overlook enough to recommend this book, but it’s not bad
Easy Beauty– There are parts of this memoir that ask brilliant ethical questions, and deal with a woman who lives with constant pain. But part of of this book deals with the authors inflated sense of intellect. Can be moving in places, but also so dry in others.
Nine Lives– This is a case of not really liking a book, but the message behind it is discussion able- the plot point is a couple says they don’t want children. After being married the husband decides he wants a child, so the book goes through nine different versions of what happens to Rose. I like the exploration of why/why not as to Motherhood. However, I often found myself lost as to what story I was reading about. Though Freitas titles the chapter the number of the life, it really didn’t make sense to me, so I lost the continuity thread. But it is thought provoking if you get past the confusion
Lost and Found– Light and cute story about a woman coming to grips with the changes that life has tossed her. This is a pleasant diversion if you want to just get lost in Paris for a little bit, but I’m not telling you to rush out and read it.
Fountains of Silence– 500 pages. No book should be 500 pages. Talks about how difficult it was in Spain during Franco, post WWII. Book is too simplistic and naive in spots. It’s for my book club and someone told me it’s a YA novel, which explains the simplicity, but I can’t imagine most kids enjoying this book. Lackluster.
Did I Say That Out Loud?– I love Real Simple magazine, and I was a fan when van Ogtrop was the Editor- however, my love for her as an editor does not extend to her as a memoirist. She’s a little whiny, and I think she’s a little overbearing as a Mother, like she takes pride in telling her adult children what to do and not to do. Admittedly there are some well crafted essays that hit home, but for the most part…pass
Lifestyle– Couple tried to save their marriage by swinging. If you want to just flip pages and see why a couple who try this extreme measure and are interested in dynamics of relationships, this is fine. Otherwise, pass. The oddest thing about this book is that the main character was supposed to have attended the same High School my daughter went to
For All the Tea– I love tea, but the history…not so much. This is a well researched book about Robert Fortune, the man credited with bringing tea seedlings to India . Rose is a decent writer, and considering all the technical jargon, she writes a fairly readable book. However, I just wasn’t invested enough in the subject.
Part of Your World- This book has over 50m ratings with an aggregate rating of 4.42, clearly I want to know who these people are so I can look at their reviews and read what they hated, because I hated what they loved. Trite is a goal for this inconsequential, predictable, boring and tired story. While it follows the basic structure of a book, words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters, it’s 300 pages of the same thing. This book could have been written in 100. I skipped pages and still knew exactly what was going on. If I don’t need to read it, you don’t need to write it.
The Good Boss
drama with dark comic undertones/Foreign language (Spanish)/what people are willing to do to succeed/
documentary/Partisan effort during WWII
Theater- Film Forum
See How They Run
mystery/who dun it
The Women King
Honk For Jesus Save Your Soul
drama/supposed to be filming a documentary
Theater- Film Forum
3,000 Years of Longing
Good Boss– Well crafted film about the head of a company which is on the short list for a distinguished business award. Well acted by Javier Bardem, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. After viewing this film I realize that it’s not just American made films that are taking a long look at society and its ills. I’m just trying to figure out what to name the genre of films coming out
Four Winters– Old school doc featuring pictures and interviews about the Jewish partisan effort in the forests of Poland during WWII. Thoughtfully curated to tell the story of the very brave young men and women who escaped the ghettos and fought back against the Nazi’s. Emotional and searing.
See How They Run– First off, there are a lot of flaws with this movie. However, I love a who dun it, so I was all in for the ride. I enjoyed this flick, but I know there are some who will say it’s trite. I’m OK with that because I thought it was fun. Great cast.
Barbarians– I am not a fan of the horror genre. However, this seems to be the direction that film making is taking- I guess this is the world post pandemic. This is a pretty good movie- decent script- interesting concept, but I don’t think you should run out and see it.
Women King – Ok- I don’t get the critical raves for this film. It has a solid concept, and it generally played out well, but there are parts when this film just drags, and is the perfect case for 2 hours 15 minutes being a little too long. There’s also more violence in this than in some recent horror movies that I’ve seen. While the violence is an integral part of the story, and I completely understand the director using it (if I’d been the director I would have used it too), it was a little much for me to watch.
Moonage– David Bowie was a genius. This movie doesn’t do him justice. Plus side- David Bowie music and interviews. Minus- Oddly formed collage of clips and scenes and such, that doesn’t quite make its point- sort of reminded me of a bad 80s music video
God’s Country– This film has an agenda and continues to beat you up with it. This film needed a dash of subtlety to have it’s point land better. Even though the protagonist was ‘right” it was hard to root for her.
Honk for Jesus– A doc crew is filming a documentary about a disgraced pastor trying to reopen his church. American ideology comes into play here, and how people act, and what we consider good and bad, and consumerism. I know audiences are very divided about this film. I thought it was good, not great, but falls into the new genre of films that have come out this year and I’ve yet to name, but am considering…”Showtime”…
Loving Highsmith– Doc about author Patricia Highsmith. I felt this doc was directionless- it was supposed to be about her being a lesbian in a time when you weren’t supposed to be, but it wanders around aimlessly, talking to some of the women she knew, and throwing in some film clips, but it added up to a big ball of nothing. Too bad because a brilliant writer deserved better
3,000 Years– There’s an academic who specializes in stories…and this is her story. Alas, her story wasn’t told well as well as it could have been. Swinton is convincing as a buttoned up academic, but her character is too one dimensional, and her lack of passion doesn’t sit right.
What are the things that go into your decision on how you handle a situation?
I’ll give you a real life example of a recent situation and how I handled it:
We were at my sister in laws house for Rosh Hashanah. We were at the table and there were about ten people. My Mother in law made a joke about how she wasn’t leaving anyone any money.
I said, in a joking manner:
Good for you. We don’t want it. Spend it all and have a great time– (this is truly my philosophy- spend your money and don’t worry about an inheritance)
My Mother in Law got incensed. I mean irate. She started yelling:
Don’t tell me how to spend my money. I’ll spend it the way I want it. Don’t you dare tell me what to do.
Then she literally got about an inch away from my face and said
When I give your daughter money it’s because I want to. It’s my choice.
The tone was threatening. There was malice in her eyes and tone and everything. I mean she went absolutely batshit crazy.
I did not engage her.
While this was happening, my Husband was stepping on my foot. This pissed me off as well.
I do not plan on talking about this incident with my Mother in Law. Frankly, I don’t think I could be calm enough to discuss it with her rationally without saying something I will regret later.
My Husband however. I did tell him that I was not happy with his Mother, which he acknowledged was just crazy behavior. I did tell him that I did not appreciate the stepping on my foot like I was to blame for this.
When we were recounting the story over the phone to my daughter, my Husband said that I shouldn’t have been talking to his Mother.
I’m supposed to sit at dinner, next to his Mother, and not talk?
This was a situation where I was mad, and trust me, I let my husband know that I was SUPER ANNOYED at that comment. He did apologize, but it took my daughter saying- OMG Dad- would you apologize to Mom over that ridiculously stupid comment that you just made?
So to recap:
My Mother in Law really made me mad, but I don’t think it is beneficial to speak to her about it because she is passive aggressive as a rule, and I don’t think she would rationally listen to me and my side.
I did talk about this incident with my Husband and daughter because I didn’t like the way my Mother in Law treated me, and I had to vent. At some point this week I will also tell my girl squad about it as well
My Husband did annoy me with both the foot pressing and the comment, and boy did I tell him how I felt about both
So why did I choose to engage one and not the other?
If I don’t tell my Husband how what he does affects me and my state of mind, I will implode. In this case his behavior really made me mad and I felt it was uncalled for. This was a non negotiable for me.
I do not get on my Husband’s case for smaller things. There are things that I let go, because in the grand scheme of things, they don’t matter to me.
I did not engage my Mother in Law, and don’t plan to, because she is a vengeful person. She already doesn’t like me. To engage would just make things worse.
So- do you always tell people how you feel, or do you let things slide? How do you determine which course you will take?
It general I do have sloth tendencies- someone used the word the other day procastireading, and I thought it was pretty perfect. I have TOTALLY left the dishes in the sink, or didn’t clean the toilet because I wanted to finish a chapter, or start a new visual adventure… My house is never winning a Good Housekeeping seal of approval…
For the most part I’m reasonably productive. I make a to do list and I do.
But in the summer…
I use the humidity as an excuse. Oh- I can’t go to the gym because it’s too humid. I can’t dust because it’s too humid. I can’t do the laundry because it’s too humid. I can’t get out of the chair to get the remote because it’s too humid…
Then it becomes, well I don’t want to run the air conditioner because of expense/environment, that I have to move across the room to turn on the unit…
And I know that these are excuses. And sort of lame excuses. Yet, I still find it hard to accomplish anything in July.
Do you have a period of the year when you just can’t get motivated? Which season is your Achilles heel? How do you get through it?
Do you hum along at the exact same speed all year? If so, what’s the secret?
What if a person goes on a teen tour. It is very clearly stated that there is zero tolerance for drinking, the kid drinks while on the trip, and then gets kicked off the trip. Do you, as a parent, punish the kid when they get home?
What if the kid was 17 in a country where the drinking age was 18?
What if the kid were 14?
What if the parents lost the entire cost of the trip, plus had to pay extra to change a flight?
What if no money was lost, the kid was just sent home?
What if the amount lost was close to $10,000?
What if the kid was a boy?
What if the kid was a girl?
In a situation where a stated rule is broken, what does a parent do in the situation?
In this hypothetical, my Husband and I had different reactions to the situation, and I wonder if Mother’s feel differently than Father’s.
If this was your kid, what would you do?
For the record- this is not a situation involving my daughter, but may or may not have happened to someone that we know
the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed
the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance
the appearance to the eye of objects in respect to their relative distance and positions
the technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye
For this, let’s take out the artistic view of perspective- we all get that if we are creating art, you look at things a certain way, 2D vs 3D, whatever…
Let’s look at perspective as a way of viewing the world as in opinions. How do our opinions get formed?
If you get bit by a dog, are you then afraid of dogs? Do you form a bias against them because you have been harmed, and sometimes there is no going back once you’ve lost your innocence?
If you ate Indian food once and your stomach did not fair well, does your perspective about eating it change?
If you went to Rome and had the time of your life, do you then continue to extol the virtues of that city to everyone you meet for the rest of your life?
The above examples are ones of trial and error- you did A, the result was B, so now your opinion on the subject is C.
Fine- you sort of understand the perspective, how it was formed, etc.
But what about the person who says I hate opera, but has never been to one? Where did the I hate opera perspective come from? Can you hate something that you have never tried or have not seen firsthand?
Think about the things you love, and the things you hate: how did you come to those opinions? Did you form them based on personal experience? Or did you form them from things you heard on the news or read somewhere?
I live in NYC. My part of the city is over 95% Democrat (to be fair, the vast majority of NYC is Democrat, but I’m trying to say that my immediate neighborhood votes left no matter who is on the right) My neighbors in my building want to defund the police, are anti profiling and spout all the philosophies of the liberal and progressive policies. They literally wear the T shirts and tote the bags and march in the protests. I’ve seen them.
You get the picture?
A few months ago, my Husband and I went to walk the dog. In the lobby of our building, my husband was accosted by several neighbors and was asked how they could let this happen. When they said THEY, the meaning was the board, as my husband is treasurer of our coop board (in NYC if you buy your apartment their are boards- will explain if need be) The thing they said was happening was that the city had taken over the boutique hotel literally across the street from our building and was turning it into a homeless shelter for women and young children. This was the first my husband or I had heard of this.
The crime they screamed
The noise they screamed
We’ll never be safe they screamed
How could the board let this happen
Why didn’t we fight this
For the record, no one had moved into the hotel/shelter yet: the way people found out was when furniture was seen being moved out of the building.
No one had moved into the hotel/shelter yet.
Does this make my neighbors:
Crappy human beings
Afraid that their property values would go down
All of the above
My first question of the day is:
If a homeless shelter were to be put directly across the street from your dwelling, what would be your immediate reaction? (you don’t have to tell me- but be honest with yourself)
Our coop board issued a statement that they would not fight the homeless shelter. This was not a unanimous decision by the board- I think it ended up being 4-3 (one board member stated on the record that he was sorry he ever moved into this building, but that’s a whole other story)
So the board was not going to ask the city to move the shelter. FYI- there are at least a dozen neighbors who won’t speak to us anymore because my Husband would not try to officially move the shelter. He was one of the votes to not fight the shelter being located across the street.
About a week later, people moved in to the shelter.
It’s been a few months, so I will give you a recap of the situation:
There are probably twenty five – thirty adult women, and each has a child under four.
The shelter has a curfew. The first few weeks people were not listening to the curfew and it was very LOUD outside of our building. Neighbors in our building and the buildings near us did get the shelter to make the residents stick to the curfew, so after a week of noise, the residents must be inside by the appointed hour, which I believe is ten pm.
So you see the first issue that we encounter. People from the shelter are on the streets. A lot. They are not allowed to loiter in front of the shelter, so they come across the street and loiter in front of our buidling. Sometimes there are so many people, my neighbors who have strollers, walkers, and canes have trouble using the ramp to enter our building. There are people there all day.
Men are not allowed in the shelter, so the boyfriends/partners of the women often come to sit with the woman and children. Fine. They use the planters in front of our building as a garbage pail. One time, someone dumped a whole bag of trash there. My doorman asked him to clean it up. The man, a friend of one of the shelter residents, dropped his pants, mooned my doorman, turned around and peed into the planter. This was on a Sunday afternoon.
We have two groups of people from the shelter. One sits on the left side of the building by the planters, the other group sits to the right on the other side of our building garage. They are two different racial groups. On Sunday afternoons we often get treated to them yelling racial slurs at one another. We also often get Jerry Springer style fights. Remember- this is all happening during the day in the presence of young children.
Let’s get to the children part.
This is the scene to the side of my building from about 8am till 10pm. The residents face the strollers towards the wall of the apartment building. They sit on the curb and drink and smoke and do drugs, while the children are in the stroller looking at the wall. When I say drugs, I don’t necessarily mean it’s just pot– I mean all kinds of drugs. We see them during the day. With the kids in the strollers. My Doormen, who have a front row view to all this, wonder how they get the kids to stay in the strollers all day without crying.
Just to give you the landscape of my area:
One block east is a park/playground
Five blocks south is a playground
Three blocks west is a playground/park
Five blocks north is a playground /park
Across the street is a plaza for the college
Around the block (300 steps) is a library with a whole floor for children
Seven blocks north there is a library with a whole floor for children
Three blocks east is a community rec center with indoor and outdoor pool and classes that the residents would be able to access
The residents get three meals a day.
We see uneaten and unopened meals strewn all over the place. I can’t really complain about these because at least they tried to put them in the garbage. Mainly they remain on the street. You know what food waste on the street brings? If you said bugs and rodents you win a prize.
The shelter has 24 hour security and social workers on the daily.
How about crime?
Well, I admit when I see two men who are high or drunk having a fight, I don’t feel too safe. When I walk the dog, a lot of people make sudden movements to scare her intentionally. My neighbors with small dogs have taken to carrying their dogs till they are away from the building.
911 is called to the shelter at least twice a day. These aren’t calls from the neighbors- these are calls from social workers and security because of escalating fights in the shelter itself. There have been a fair number of calls for the children for accidents and other medical issues.
Every weekend my actual neighbors from my building or surrounding buildings call the police for fights outside, or people passed out on the street, or severe intoxication. I’ve gotten used to walking down the street and seeing flashing lights as I approach my block. it’s just another day.
Am I judging the situation?
Am I right to judge the situation?
But we really need to ask:
Is any of this an actual problem? Are people entitled to live anyway they want, without judgement from anyone else?
Is there an actual problem with people throwing away complete meals?
Is there a problem with people leaving their kids in strollers all day facing a wall?
Is there a problem with hanging out on the street all day doing drugs and drinking and smoking?
Am I judging what is happening because I’m :
Do people have to make the same choices that I have and do things the way I did/do?
No they don’t.
Who is to say that the way I do things is the right way, or the only way?
So, this is what’s happening in my neck of the woods. Feel free to jump in and talk about whatever you think/feel about what I wrote. Think about what I wrote and be honest with yourself about what you think and feel.
I was in the elevator of my building recently. I began a conversation with some random neighbor and I said that my daughter went to X University. he replied, “Oh, someone else in the building has a kid that goes there.” I looked at him quizzically, because there aren’t that many college age kids, and I know them all. He said- “He’s the guy on the board. Maybe you know him”. And I laughed and said- “yeah- that’s my Husband. We both have a kid at that school, or something like that.” The guy looked at me quizzically and said OK.
It was the OK that got me.
And, I know that I am totally reading into the situation, but I felt like the guy was trying to figure out how that guy was my Husband.
My Husband is four years younger than me, and in annoyingly good shape. If we had an attic I would assume that there was an aging painting in there. He has all his hair, he’s slim, and he has limited wrinkles. He doesn’t even look his age at all…
This is when I hate men.
Alas, I am a post menopausal woman who likes to eat and cook and I have the stomach to prove it. I know that I am not as physically attractive as I once was, and I’m normally OK with that…
All right, I’m really never ok with the fact that I’m not as attractive as I once was…
And this day I felt it.
There was no consolation in the fact that I was in the laundry room in my gym clothes, because I’d been to the gym and wanted to get the laundry up while I showered. My hair was in a pony, I had not a drop of anything but residual sweat on my face, and seriously, I looked like I needed to be put in the wash cycle. I’m sure I didn’t smell so great either…I was definitely not wearing perfume…
I felt old and dingy and washed up.
Amazing what the mind does to you…
And then I wanted to go make a high calorie cake for my husband and hide my moisturizer that I let him use. Let him get dry skin…let him look his age…
But that’s being petty.
I should be better than that…
I should be…but I’m not…
What is it about aging and beauty, or lack there of, that gets me every time? Why is it so hard to accept that looks change as you get older? How do we learn to accept ourselves as we get older?
It’s funny because I thought I was OK with my body, my face, my drier skin and grey hair. But I guess I’m not as emotionally and mentally strong about this as I’d like to be. It’s another thing to work on, one more task for my to do list…I just wish it was easier to plot out the goal, for me to say- to become more tolerant of my aging, I just need to do steps 1, 2 and 3…
Alas…it’s not that easy…
But I’ll try.
First, I’ll have a little pity party, and then I’ll remind myself that I am healthy and can still hold my own in a Spin class, and that I really don’t have that many wrinkles around my eyes, and I don’t yet need reading glasses…
And I’ll just get on with it a day at a time.
I need to remember that aging is a gift, a gift that many do not receive.