1) aspiring curmudgeon
2) culture vixen
3) adores cats and dogs equally
4) very amateur photographer
5) enthusiast of the written word,
6) Mom to high achieving teenager,
7) wife to foodie who won't eat cheese
8) cooks with reckless abandon
9) optimistic Met fan
10) lover of lists
My college alumnae association recently started an online book club.
My friend M and I were probably the first ones to sign up.
We attended a small, women’s, Catholic liberal arts college, located in a suburb of a major city.
From what you just read about my college, can you make any assumptions about me?
Can you determine what my likes and dislikes are?
Does my choice in college say anything about me as a person?
At our first book club meeting a few months ago, we read a book called “Parakeet”. This book would definitely be considered literary fiction, as it was very stylized. It didn’t straight out tell a story, but used various tropes and devices to get it’s point across.
While I didn’t suggest it as a book club choice, when I got the list of choices I realized that it was on my TBR, so I put my vote in for it.
Personally I didn’t like the book: it was too “literary” for my taste. But I did think it was well written, and understood what the author was going for.
But when we had the discussion, I did find one thing very interesting- one woman stated:
“I’m really surprised that someone from our college would choose this book.”
When the woman, who is quite well read and makes very astute comments said this, I sat back and thought.
This statement was clearly the most interesting thing said at book club.
Just because I went to a certain type of school, am I expected to read a certain type of literature?
Does what we do or where we go determine who we are?
I don’t need to tell you that I didn’t graduate yesterday…
Wouldn’t you hope that I’d grown and changed over the years?
Expanded my horizons?
Opened up doors that might have previously thought locked?
Do we change as we mature?
Or are we the same people we’ve always been?
For fun, think about my choice of college: small, liberal arts, Catholic, all women, suburban.
Name one characteristic that you think I am based on my college, and then think if I am really like that.
What book do you think I would like based on my college choice?
What book do you think I would read based upon what you know about me?
Then think about your own occupational or educational choices: do they line up with your reading choices?
Does where you’re from really dictate who you are?
I read old school, paper, get delivered in the mail magazines
I rip out recipes from said magazines
I think too much
I love a list
A few months ago I found a recipe: it was entitled Cheesy One Pot Pasta. For those of you that do know me, you still might not know these things:
I love a meal where I only dirty one pot
My husband doesn’t eat any cheese except for mozzarella on pizza and sandwiches
My daughter and I love cheese so make it whenever my husband isn’t home for dinner
I like a recipe where I don’t particularly need to think
So my husband was going out for dinner and I decided to make this pasta. I scanned the recipe…
rimmed baking sheet
Ok- I admit that one can say that the writers of the magazine weren’t wrong. You only needed one pot…
In the spirit of all things easy and simple…
Why would you label a recipe “One Pot” and then need three different cooking vessels with which to cook?
Now, all this got me thinking…
How often do we say one thing, but mean another?
How often do we say things that are misleading?
How often do we not communicate to our partners exactly what we expect to happen?
How often do we not think about the details involved in something?
How often do we not read something or do research before we embark on something?
I got all this out of a pasta recipe…
(Of course, now I can’t help but wonder if real people in real life actually do take a walk in the park and quote Nietzsche- I mean if I can get all philosophical while reading a recipe featured in Real Simple, maybe those beach read writers know something I don’t…)
Are things as simple as they seem?
Do we delude ourselves with the best of intentions?
To close, if I were to speak to this recipe I would simply say:
“I’m not upset that you lied to me. I’m upset that from now on I can’t Beleive you.”
I’ve told you the story of my husband and the kitchen tile- and how he will never ever pick out something for the house again because he is too afraid of making a mistake again…
But do you freeze up at the thought of having to make a choice?
Research something for six months and still hem and haw?
Try six outfits on before you get dressed?
Change your mind on your meal as the waitestaff leaves your table?
Have fifty drafts in your wordpress draft folder?
Why are we so afraid of making mistakes?
I admit, I am a pretty good decision maker. I may research, or overthink it a bit, but I rarely actually hem and haw over something.
I just choose.
Of course, I have already sort of presorted things in my mind. My clothes are all the same color, and basically the same style. By this point in my life, I have my uniform. I know what I think is appropriate for different occasions- ie- I wear the same black dress, I just switch up the footware, the jewelry and the jacket layer up depending on the occasion and how much walking I’ll be doing.
If I’m at a restaurant I don’t worry about ordering something I’ve never had before: what’s the worst thing that happens? I don’t like it. My life doesn’t end because I tried chicken a la king and didn’t enjoy it…
My daughter will sometimes ask me if she should apply for something- she did it last week for a virtual alternative break program with her University.
I asked her these questions:
Pros and cons
Application fee too high?
Was she locked in if she was chosen
Downsides to applying
After these four questions, she knew her answer and she applied to the program. The worst thing that could happen is that she would waste a reference on something she wasn’t interested in.
Choosing something shouldn’t be rocket science: think about what you are choosing between. Ask yourself those type of questions.
Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen if you say “Yes”
What’s the worst thing that can happen if you say “No”?
Are you letting fear of the unknown get the better of you?
Are you scared of change?
Are you scared of living your best life?
Are you scared that you will make a mistake?
Are you scared you will fail?
We all need to remember that inertia is a choice too. It might be a passive choice, but it is a choice just the same.
Ok- I know I sound like some sort of two bit motivational speaker that appears on the odd channels on the TV at 3am…I’m guessing this is where I ask you to purchase the boxset videos of my motivational speeches…49.99 plus shipping and handling…and if you act now I will throw in a set of ginzu knives…
We have spent the past year scared…
We have spent the last year on hold…
If you want a vaccine, call up and ask for one. I know in New York State, they threw out some vaccines because there was some confusion about who exactly was eligible, so my guess is no other state is going to let that happen, so I’d say, if you want a vaccine, be proactive and ask…
There is no harm in asking for a vaccine. The worst they can say is “No. Not yet.”
But think about making choices that will enrich your life, not detract from it.
Just cause we are breathing doesn’t mean we are living…
Disclaimer: I am not advocating for or against the vaccine. I am merely stating that if you’ve been living in fear, now is the time to start taking control back.
Oddly, when I got the idea for this post a few months ago, I had no idea where I would go with it. 700 words and I’m still not quite sure what my point is…
Stop stressing about little things.
Stop stressing about things that you can’t control.
Start living the life that you want to live.
Stop letting “things” hold you back.
We get one go round in life. Let’s make it a good one…
However you label it, I love a book about women who don’t technically do extraordinary things, yet are mothers or childless- married, divorced, widowed or forever single- rich or poor- corporate execs or struggling artists…just normal women…
You get the gist…
I like books that are fairly easy to read, the conflict is fairly benign, and normal people get to tell normal stories.
I like to read about the kind of people that I am likely to come across in my life. This doesn’t mean that these are the only types of books I read- far from it- I read across many genres. But I almost always have one of these types of books in my “Currently Reading” pile on Goodreads.
Light reads aimed at a female audience: Not even vaguely can be considered literary fiction. There probably aren’t reader discussion questions in the back…You get the idea about the type of book I’m talking about…
So why, in these sorts of light reads, do the authors choose to quote from very heady books?
For example I am reading an atrocious book now. It’s set in a fictionalized Muslim country and while I have no doubt it’s supposed to be about how women are treated (heavy topic), it’s really a light read. The sentences are trite. The descriptions are tedious. The conflict is manufactured and so predictable my puppy could plot it out…
Yet, the author chooses to head each chapter with a beautiful quote by Rumi…
I’ve read beach reads where the author quotes heavyweight authors- Hemingway- Fitzgerald- Faulkner are quoted as the heroine is shopping for sunglasses. Where poems by Maya Angelou and Emily Dickinson are cited while someone is mixing margarita’s…
Why do these authors feel the need to have their characters quote things from the PBS reading list?
Are they trying to show how smart they are?
Are they trying to tell the reader that they are just writing these light fiction works to pay the bills as they pen the Great American Novel?
Are they just big giant book nerds who have degrees in English Lit?
I know I have been known to throw out a quote or two from books or movies or whatever. There are certain things I remember, and seem to fit certain situations well. How many times do I find a quote somewhere and blog about it? Last week for those not counting…
Does the reader of a casual beach read want to read quotes or references to books that they may or may not know?
Especially given that a novel is usually not a forum for discussion?
What do you think when an author quotes something in a novel that is seemingly out of place with the genre, style or plot of a novel?
In casual conversation, how often do you quote Shakespeare?
When is the last time you read aloud a Walt Whitman stanza while out with friends?
How often do literary quotes enter your day to day?
Do you want to read them when you are reading a pleasurable, light read?