Gratitude and Mindfulness: 11/26/22

I have been writing a lot, so I needed something to just shut my mind down for a little bit because I’ve gotten to the point where I am constantly rewriting sentences in my head. Enter Sims Build It. I sort of love creating a little world that I can completely control (I don’t do disasters…) I am grateful for th littlee bit of brain shut off that this game allows.

My prompt for this week was KIND (this goes back to my post last month about semantics- and the past three weeks saw me thinking about nice, polite and respect). Here’s how KIND was used in the books that I am reading:

  1. Beside her sits a kind-faced woman that I do not know, who pats Edward on the arm supportively as he shifts past her. Catherine Steadman
  2. Don’s unreliable but ultimately loyal friend Gene was originally two people: the kind and helpful laboratory manager, giving Don sound advice, and the original Gene, an unadulterated rogue. Graeme Simsion
  3. On our dates, we are kind to ourselves, and that seems to raise for us the possibility of divine benevolence. Julia Cameron
  4. His expression is kind, brimful with concern. Natasha Solomons
  5. But as is becoming more evident by the day, when we refuse to celebrate the earth’s kindness, we prepare the ground for the earth to refuse kindness to us. Ross Gay
  6. They send pictures every few months, and in the pictures Dad looks kind and strong. Javier Zamora
  7. Today. for some incomprehensible reason, we have come to see kindness as a weakness, as if you are effacing yourself, as if you are submissive, as if you don’t have anything better to do. Eveline Helmink
  8. If he’s kind, that means he’s poor. Carolyn Huynh
  9. Kindness to strangers is a habit, like a reflex. Fumio Sasaki
  10. Bathe this person with love and kindness as well. Pedram Shojai
  11. As you remind yourself of how much you appreciate them, you’ll become aware of how precious your relationship with them is and will naturally begin treating them with greater kindness, thanking and contacting them more often. Marie Kondo

What I’m going to think about when thinking about KIND:

  1. Kind is not often used in books as referring to being kind to someone or something- it’s usually used in other forms
  2. As a word in a novel, the word felt flat when reading, and I would find myself wondering what was meant by kind
  3. I think it’s an organized thought to not use the word kind
  4. The quotes from above, # 7 and #8: do we think kind equals lacking a trait that others find desirable?
  5. Are we lacking kindness today in society?

My Month in Books and Movies- November 2022

BookAuthorGenreBook Club/Beach Read/Personal Growth/How ToMy Ranking/Goodreads rating
She Walks in Beautycurated by Caroline Kennedypoetry anthologypersonal growth1/3.98
The Family RemainsLisa Jewellpsychological thriller/sequelbeach read2/3.94
People PersonCandice Carty-Williamswomen’s fiction/family/comic overtonesbook club light3/3.75
HorseGeraldine Brookspart historical and part present day/how blacks are treated in America/drama/multiple perspectivesbook club4/4.36
Bibliophile: An Illustrated MiscellanyJane Mountbook about books/readingfun5/4.33
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible ThingMatthew Perrynon fiction/memoir/addicition/celebritybeach read6/3.87
  1. She Walks in Beauty– This is an anthology of poems that deal with women in one way or another. I like poetry anthologies because I like reading a mix of poems, and I liked the forwards by Caroline Kennedy. Works if you want a mix of poems from different people
  2. The Family Remains I loved the first in this series, The Family Upstairs so I was excited to see a sequel- alas, while good, it doesn’t pack the wallop of the first novel. It’s fun and a light read, but I don’t think I’d tell you to run out and read it. It was what I needed one particular week though.
  3. People Person– Williams is a solid writer with a flair for crafting a gorgeous sentence and she maintains a distinct voice. Her characters really come alive on the page, and you feel their emotions, though there are a lot of characters, so some revert to stereotypes. I just wasn’t interested in the story of this particular dysfunctional family, but that’s not to take away from the many plusses this book has
  4. Horse– There are people who love this book. I am not one of them. Too many different perspectives, but the voices are not unique- I only knew who was speaking because of the setting, not the character thoughts. The plot is formulaic and predictable. The writing is eh. While I applaud the author for tackling this subject matter, at least write it so I can’t wait to pick up the book.
  5. Bibliophile-This is a cute little coffee table type book and the perfect time waster for a reader. Curated collection of book stores and libraries and book tidbits. Cute and fun but nothing earth shattering
  6. Friends– I am a big Matthew Perry fan. I am not a fan of this book. While I applaud Perry for confronting and speaking about his addiction issues, this book just rambles on, repeats itself, and has little organization. There are parts that are highly entertaining, but doesn’t work as a memoir. That being said, I applaud the courage it took for Perry to write and discuss this. Kudos to him, and for the fact that he is willing to help out anyone in need as per addiction issues.
MovieGenreWhere SeenMy Ranking/RT critic/RT Audience
The Banshees of Inisherindrama with some comedic overtones, morality taleTheater- AMC1 98/75
Black Panther: Wakanda ForeverMarvel franchise/super heroTheater – AMC2/ 84/95
The Menupsych thriller/dark comedy/satire Theater- AMC3 89/78
Tilldrama/based on a true storyTheater- AMC4 98/97
Aftersundrama/coming of age/father- daughter relationshipsTheater- AMC5 97/78
She Saidthe account of the reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein storyTheater-AMC6 86/88
Eternal Springdocumentary/foreign language (Mandarin) animatedTheater- Film Forum7 77/99
Utamaforeign language (Quechua and Spanish) drama/familyTheater- Film Forum8 95/not enough audience scores
All That Breathesdocumentary/foreign language (Hindi) environmentalTheater- Film Forum9 100/70
EOforeign language (polish/Italian) almost no dialogue. morality tale/fable Theater- Film Forum10 98/not enough audience scores
Armageddon Timedrama/coming of age/set in 1980’s NYCTheater- AMC11 75/47
  1. Banshees This is a well crafted film. It’s beautifully filmed and lit, with some really gorgeous frames to look at. Solid acting by the main stars, especially Colin Farrell who really shows what a fine actor he is. It’s a tale of loneliness, isolation and despair, and what getting into your head too much can do to someone. This film is not for everyone- but it is excellent filmmaking.
  2. Wakanda Solid sequel to the Black Panther/Marvel franchise and wonderful tribute to Chadwick Boseman. Wakanda Forever. You either like these movies or you don’t. If you like the genre, see this.
  3. The Menu– This is how you do a satire about the rich and powerful. Beautifully paced movie about the working class vs the elite- with a perfect stony faced Ralph Fiennes…There are a few dark moments- but I thought they were handled really well. If you want a pleasant diversion, this is probably not the movie- but if you want to think, try it out.
  4. Till– The story of Emmett Till is one that needs to be shared, and this is a solid retelling of that story. Danielle Deadwyler is very good as Mamie Till-Mobley. The director wields a very deft hand at portraying a movie that is about violence at its core, yet shows remarkable restraint.
  5. Aftersun- This is another literary fiction movie- character driven, minimal plot, ambiguous. I’m not quite sure about the ending of this film, but I have opinions and I think I know what happened, but I’m not sure. Though less than 2 hours of screen time it does move a little slow. If you like your films like this it’s worth a stream, but if you like plot and action stay away.
  6. She Said– well made retelling of the Weinstein story and how it ignited a movement against sexual harassment. Well made, but not earth shattering- a little slow and long, and lacked gravitas of Spotlight or All the President’s Men.
  7. Eternal Spring– Interview style doc, done with much animation, about when Chinese TV was taken over by members of Falun Gong, and what happened to the people that did it. Dare to stand up to the party and you will suffer. Gave me insight into something I didn’t know much about.
  8. Utama– Family/relationship drama about a couple that live in Bolivia and farm llama’s. Slow moving story about a grandson trying to understand his grandparents decision to stay and work in a rural area, and the grandparents resenting their son’s escaping to the city. Shows that all families have issues.
  9. All That Breathes– Fly on the wall documentary, which in this case left a lot of unanswered questions. We follow the lives of two bird rehabilitators, but we don’t get that much insight other than the glib headlines of poor air quality in Delhi. We also get a backdrop of political unrest, but we don’t get as much info as I would like
  10. EO THere is almost no dialogue in this movie, and I go to movies for the dialogue. Morality tale/fable about cruelty, kindness and modern Europe as seen through the eyes of a donkey. I was not a fan.
  11. Armageddon Time– It’s hard to have a coming of age story if you don’t like the protagonist- and I really didn’t like the him. The movie has so many messages floating around and not one of them is played through from start to finish. A waste of really good acting talent and two hours of my life.

Thanks

I am thankful for:

  1. I get another Thanksgiving with my parents, even if they drive me crazy. I figure I’ll get a blog post out of it
  2. My daughter will be home from college
  3. I have a roof over my head, food on the table and a somewhat warm home
  4. A husband who drives me crazy only about 25% of the time
  5. Friends who are willing to let me vent
  6. An idea for a book that is taking shape
  7. Pets that are adorable
  8. The Botanic Garden, Metropolitan Museum, Film Forum, AMC A List, Roundabout Theater, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
  9. Barnes and Noble/Paper Source
  10. Ereader/books/talks from authors

The End of Magazines

I had been a long time subscriber to Entertainment Weekly. A few months ago, EW stopped putting out a print edition, but I had paid for a certain number of issues, so their solution was to give me People magazine instead. To be clear, I don’t like People magazine, but it wasn’t worth fighting about. I gave my issues to one of my neighbors who loves all things celebrity.

When I got the postcard stating that I would be receiving People instead, there was an email to write to to say that after the subscription was over, I would NOT be renewing. So I emailed.

Fine.

Then, a few months ago, I got a bill for another year of people.

I was not happy.

This time I called and got a customer service rep. I asked the customer service rep why I was charged. He gave me a song and dance and kept telling me to calm down.

What happens if you tell someone to calm down?

He said my subscription was for automatic renewal.

I asked if it was on auto for People?

He told me to calm down.

I told him that he fraudulently used my credit card because the auto was for EW. By renewing a subscription that I never ordered he (the company) had broken the law.

I asked him how calm would he be if someone used his credit card without the proper authorization.

To be fair, I have no idea if it’s actually illegal to do what they did- my guess is it’s in the grey area of the little tiny language at the bottoms of things we sign when we sign our lives away…

But the words illegal and I’m calling my credit card company were all he needed to issue me the credit…

And there’s a little slice of my life…

Realignment

In Conversations on Love, author Natasha Lun speaks with Sarah Hepola about reading as a sort of realignment:

It’s an emotional realignment, like somebody’s cracked my spine. If I get lonely, I reach for those pieces of writing that feed the soul. That can lead you back to the best in yourself, or articulate things that you can’t find words for. When you stumble onto something you didn’t know that somebody else felt too, you think, oh my gosh, I’m not the only one. That is falling in love- it’s the self recognized in someone else. A union of souls.

So now that we’ve established that reading is my true soul mate…

The past few weeks I’ve been especially cranky. There is no one reason for the mood- it’s like an accumulation of sludge that has just built up and now is set to explode and seep into my soul. I can’t shake the mood. But on top of all the seemingly endless things that are pushing my dander up into the stratosphere, I must add that I have been on a streak of picking books that just aren’t doing it for me.

Instead of lifting me up…books/reading are dragging me down…

Normally books get me through the tough times- they make me smile or laugh or think or just exhale…

But this month, all I seem to read is books that annoy me…

More than once I have shut a book mid chapter because I just can’t get the author’s point of view- or I get it and I think it’s ridiculous… Or I didn’t like the style in which the author wrote (two books this month- two highly touted books- and the style is driving me crazy)

Then I got a psychological thriller- where bad things happen to bad people- and you know what? I got all my rage out by reading about people who literally got their rage out…

And then I got another psych thriller, which I am amidst, and again, I’m aligning with the psychopaths, which might be a little scary to think about, but it’s making me feel so much better…I get why people snap. I also get that by reading about it I don’t have to literally snap…

Who knew that books about disturbing people could be so emotionally liberating?!

But what about you? Do you reach for books for emotional realignment?

What was the last book that brought you out of a funk? Do you have a genre or author that always works?

Discuss:

Limitations

Bill and I spend a ton of time together, but we accept each other’s limitations every day. Being in a good relationship requires that. Heather Havrilesky answering question posed by Natasha Lun in Conversations on Love

So…

Do we have to accept our partners limitations? Why or why not?

I think we must accept our partners as they are- the good and the bad. It’s all part of the package.

What are my husband’s limitations?

  1. He hates putting towels back on the rack after he’s used them. He will just leave them wherever. If I were to get mad about this I would be irate twice a day. While it used to irk me I’ve realized that he is never changing and I have to accept that
  2. My husband is a dropper. When he works in the office he comes home and starts getting undressed in the front hallway, and he leaves a trail of clothes throughout the apartment. I now just call him Hansel.
  3. He will “lose” at least three things every day, and expect me to find them. Yesterday it was his keys, which he had left in the front door…FYI- he also has ten pairs of cheap reading glasses scattered around the house- I figure we should be able to locate at least one pair when he needs on
  4. My husband will want to leave for something given the amount of time he needs to walk there, which is about twice as fast as I walk. Occasionally I get passive aggressive about this. Recently, we had friends over for pre dinner drinks. we had a 7 pm reservation, I know it takes my husband 15 minutes to walk there, me 25, and I knew (from prior experience) that it would take our friends at least 35 minutes to get there. At 6:15 I said five minute warning, which my husband ignored, and I just smirked and let it go. Of course we were late to the reservation and my husband was itchy from the stress. Call me being passive aggressive a limitation…

But you get the idea. If I was to get made at him for every annoying trait he has with regards to being a hard working lazy person, we would never have a civil conversation. I, sometimes begrudgingly, accept that he will never not be a dropper nor as organized as I’d like, but I have to basically deal with it. And then complain about it on my blog, because I know he’s not changing. Just like he needs to accept that if we are doing something I need an hour to get ready. Period. If he wants me to do something outside the house, that’s my thing- I know exactly how much time I need. he has to deal with me getting up at 6am and not whine that I’m up too early. These are the deals we make in a relationship- know what your partner needs and don’t complain about it if it isn’t too egregious…

But what do you think?

Do you have to accept your partners limitations?

Discuss

Veni, Vidi, etc…11/20/22

Gratitude and Mindfulness: 11/19/22

My apartment building has undergone façade repair for the past two years, which means our building has been encased in scaffolding for the past two years. The scaffolding came down this week!

  1. I am grateful for the scaffolding is down
  2. I am grateful that there will no longer be construction noise taking place outside the windows
  3. I am grateful that there will no longer be men who might be right outside my window from any point between 9 and 5
  4. I am grateful that I can wash my windows and they might stay clean for more than a minute
  5. I am grateful that we will be able to use the roof deck once again

My journal prompt for the week is RESPECT (this follows suit with the words I discussed recently) Here’s how it appeared in the books that I’m reading:

  1. But I’m a good guy I swear. I’ve never treated the women in my life with anything other than the utmost respect. Lisa Jewell
  2. She (Edna Lewis) published The Taste of Country Cooking in 1976 but it feels new, organized by seasonal menus, focused on respecting ingredients, and capped off with understated stories of country life. Jane Mount
  3. On tough days, it helps to treat your body with dignity and respect. Eveline Helmink
  4. …it wasn’t children controlled excessively by their parents, but children whose choices and independence had been respected that obtained the skills necessary to be the most successful in the marshmallow test. Fumio Sasaki
  5. Over time, you’ll have more access to this space, and if you remain respectful of its different quality of time, you can reap tremendous benefits from it in your life. Pedram Shojai
  6. She bowed and greeted him in Vietnamese, as it was expected of her to greet her elders with respect, even though the man was creepier than a dark alleyway at night. Carolyn Huynh
  7. I respect my readers assessment that there’s a problem. But they’re readers. I’m the author; I’m the one who’s trying to decide how I fix it in the context of what I’m trying to do. Graeme Simsion
  8. You are good and you deserve respect and kindness. Natasha Solomons
  9. He listens as he was taught to listen: respectfully. Julia Cameron
  10. I behaved stupidly out of respect for the law. Hugh Eakin
  11. When Marcelo was around, people looked at us differently- with respect and with fear because of Marcelo’s big muscles, scary face, tattoos that peeked out from his sleeves. Javier Zamora
  12. (Keeping our entrance clean) instills in us a respect for our home as a sacred place. Marie Kondo
  13. There’s something in his tone as he says it, something incredibly self aware, the noun carrying a respect I haven’t often heard it imbued with. Catherine Steadman

How I’m thinking about RESPECT:

  1. Do we pattern a behavior of respect for our children?
  2. Are respect and fear intertwined?
  3. Do we deserve respect or is it earned?
  4. If an older relative is mean or whatever, do they deserve respect because they are older?

Anything Can Happen Fridays: Small Talk

I don’t normally start random conversations with random strangers- probably part of the whole introvert thing. There are also times I truly relish being by myself- I really need alone time to keep all the parts going.

One place I love to go alone is the movies. While I most definitely see movies with friends and family, there is something I love about sneaking off to a matinee. Once a month I even treat myself to the childrens pack, which is a very small popcorn, small drink and a package of gummy fruit snacks. It’s kind of heaven for me…

So a few weeks ago I was at one of my matinees. It was a wet, dreary day, and I had about a billion things on my mind, so this was a much needed bit of self care. I got my empty cup, my unbuttered popcorn and headed to the drink station.

My local AMC has one of those drink machines where you can literally get any of at least 100 beverage choices. I am a no caffeine, diet cherry coke person, which is what I was pouring myself from the dispenser. As I was putting the lid on, a woman asked if I could help her with the drink machine.

I said sure, took her cup and asked what she wanted. As I was pouring her straight up coke no flavor, full caffeine, full sugar drink, she said to me.

“I didn’t know you needed a degree in astrophysics to get a drink”

to which I smiled and said

“Ah- this is drink gathering 2022”

or something along that ilk. I handed her the drink, she didn’t say thank you, and I walked to the buttery artificial topping station.

The woman, without popcorn, followed me. As I decorated my popcorn she said:

“I guess I needed to be with Neil Degrasse Tyson to appreciate my joke” When I didn’t respond, she repeated it.

Part of me wanted to say that it wouldn’t be astrophysics that would require one to work the soda maching…maybe a masters in engineering, but I really wanted to just get to my movie. My worst fear was that she was going to follow me to my movie and proceed to tell me jokes throughout…And yeah…she scared me just a little tiny bit.

Who follows someone to heckle them about not laughing at a joke, in the lobby of the AMC…

So there’s my anecdote/not much of a story…

Have you ever had an odd encounter with a stranger?

Life Lessons

…By saying, Even if I don’t get what I want, I have a good life, then paying closer attention to the small details that make life beautiful. And by never forgetting that not knowing what will happen next also means that anything could. Natasha Lun on what she might tell her younger self about the future. Conversations on Love

  1. the little things in life matter
  2. be open to the possibilities before you

Are those two things the secret to life as we know it? Are these the things that you would tell your younger self if you could?

When I read this I decided that Lun was onto something…she sort of elegantly stated that sometimes life doesn’t work out exactly as we planned, but it still can be pretty awesome anyway…We just have to take the time to remember all the good that happens…

What do you think you would tell your younger self if you could? What do you think are the most important life lessons?