Favorites, without (specific) explanations

These books are my favorites. They changed who I was or what I thought was beautiful. They gave me insights and things to write on my bathroom mirror. They made me think or ask questions about things I’d never before been curious about. They made me laugh and/or distracted me when I most needed a diversion. Read them if you get the chance. And for the love of god, if you’re judging me on the contents of this list, don’t tell me.

The World According to Garp
A Prayer for Owen Meany
The Cider House Rules
The Great Gatsby
Lonesome Dove
The Secret Life of Bees
Beloved
The Stand
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Eat, Pray, Love
Ready Player One
The Thirteenth Tale

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15 Confessions

1) Sometimes I forget that my cat isn’t a person. This is true to such a degree that I occasionally catch myself getting pissed at him when he doesn’t follow simple instructions.

2) I take elections personally.

3) I also take it personally when my favorite musicians decide to retire and tickets to their farewell tour concert are way too expensive for my skimpy-as-hell budget. I’m looking at you, Elton John. Don’t you know I love you? Continue reading “15 Confessions”

Roxanne

I haven’t had a new computer in years. I bought the last one around 2009; it was an open box special, heavily discounted from Best Buy. I remember being ecstatic when I brought it home. It had a brand name. It had stuff pre-installed that I could gleefully mess around with for a while and then gripe about later (“Seriously, you wouldn’t believe the amount of bloatware on that thing!”). But it was a hassle Continue reading “Roxanne”

Liminal Life

lim·i·nal
ˈlimənl/
adjective
  1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
  2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

My sister is coming down this weekend to camp in a park near us, and every time she does, I’m reminded how much I miss it, and how close that lifestyle is to at least half of my dreams. I’m a contradiction, I guess, in several of the things I love, but this one in particular stands out and is Continue reading “Liminal Life”

RomComs in Academia

I’m an academic.  And my guess is that you wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t told you, so I thought it best to get it out in the open first thing. When I approach matters of faith and religion, I tend to do so with my academic hat on. I detach from whatever vestiges of ingrained and indoctrinated belief remain within me, and I become instantly able to discuss and question anything and everything faith-related with Continue reading “RomComs in Academia”

Solitary

I’m a solitary person. I crave alone time and silence, and sometimes I’m much happier than I probably should be to indulge in as many hours as I can get. I’ll let the cat into my space, but only because he’s mostly silent and only seems to care about positioning himself on a comfortable lap. Plus, he keeps my legs warm while I read. Continue reading “Solitary”

50 Things

I smoked for 25 years before I quit this year.  My sister is to blame.  For the smoking, not the quitting.

I lived in the South for 13 years before coming back home to Illinois at the end of 2014.  I should’ve come back MUCH SOONER.

I believe the biggest lie ever told by any human ever is “people are nicer in the South.”  No, people just don’t tell you to your face in the South.  You can bet your ass Continue reading “50 Things”

I’ll just be over here hiding under my blanket, reading.

I’ve said it before:  in the past seven months, it’s been impossible for me to watch the news.  I have about a 60 second window before my limit is reached, and then I just start screaming profanity at the television.  (Doubtless, this makes me even more of a delight to live with than usual.) Because I can’t handle any mention of Trump (or of the institutionalized racism, misogyny, and overwhelming Continue reading “I’ll just be over here hiding under my blanket, reading.”

Kindle catastrophes

A year or so ago, after Amazon had already come out with both the Voyage and the Oasis, I bought a Paperwhite.  I already had one, but Hubby needed one that had some miles on it to take to work.  I hopped online and bought a new one for myself, in white this time.  She’s very pretty and she seems to play a little nicer with Calibre, a program I use to manage the hundreds of ebooks and converted fanfiction files I’ve amassed Continue reading “Kindle catastrophes”

The spice of life

My grandma used to say “variety is the spice of life.” She said it often and with a twinkle in her eye, but I can’t for the life of me remember the context. She and I were never particularly daring as a duo, though we liked people to think we were. Maybe the words were just her trying to amuse her 50-years-younger grandkid on a Friday night. Probably. But I love the memory of the smile that accompanied them, regardless.

I think, in general, that my grandma had a fairly unhappy life. When she told me stories, they were often traumatic or sad or both. She was once hungry enough to literally eat dirt. She was kidnapped. She was shot. She had cancer. She had bad relationships with her father and her second husband, and her feelings about both of them remained unresolved even years after their deaths.

When she said “variety is the spice of life,” I’m fairly certain that the traumas she experienced and the awful things she felt (and said) were not what she was referencing.  In fact, I actually have no idea what she meant.  I remember loving everything she cooked, but there was never anything surprising or spicy there — not until her first husband moved in (after fifty-some years during which she thought he was dead) and started doing his own cooking, and I was long grown by then.  She never went anywhere except to visit her oldest daughter in Pennsylvania and maybe her sister in Florida once or twice.  Her music was always the same; she never even got rid of the solid oak console television in the living room, because she needed it to listen to her Andy Williams records.  She went to the same church for as long as I can remember.  She parked in the same place, sat on the same side, and said hello to the same two or three people every week for 30 years. She drank a fair bit, but it was always the same thing:  7 & 7.  When the first ex moved back in, she switched to wine.  Aside from one brother, one sister, and a friend she’d had since grade school (but only occasionally liked), she had no friends and no standing social engagements.  She had her hair done once a week by the same stylist from the time I was born til she moved away in her 80s.  Aside from some flower and vegetable gardening in the summer, I have no idea what she did with her time; she hadn’t had a job outside of the house since her kids were little. In retrospect, she always seemed to know more about cleaning and stain removal than anyone should.

Where was the variety?  Where was the spice?

I think sometimes that she must’ve had a very active fantasy life.  In her youth, she was movie star beautiful, and people commented on how stunning she was well into her old age.  Maybe in her dreams all that beauty took her somewhere.  Certainly, she had the material on which to base her imaginings. She had learned to read early, and she often told stories of walking to the library in all kinds of weather.  Her living room bookshelves were the inspiration for my own, and I spent many hours of my childhood inspecting each and every title they held.  I know she read, but I don’t really know when or what.  In later years, I saw her do it only occasionally and never more than 30 minutes at a stretch.  She spent more time with our small town’s morning paper than with any book.  She painted a few things.  She meditated nearly every morning, from the time I was a kid until she moved away.  What did she fantasize about?  I never saw her do anything daring, and I don’t think I ever saw her truly having a good time (though I’ve seen pictures and old videos that make me think there must’ve been some happy times before and soon after my birth).  The only family lore on the subject says that back in the day (the 1960s and 1970s), the brothers and sisters could throw down with the best of them.  At the time, my grandma would’ve been in her 40s and 50s, the oldest of all her siblings.  They sat around in one another’s backyards and basements, drinking and smoking, laughing into the wee hours of morning.

I wonder if she felt like her life was on a downhill slope once she hit 60, if it even took that long. She never seemed particularly happy to be married to the man I called “grandpa,” though they’d known one another for many, many years and even my mom considered him family.  She quit smoking after forty years though it always seemed to be something that brought her joy.  (I wonder if she still measures her life in seven minute segments.)  She didn’t go out.  She played solitaire for hours.  When the first husband came back, she switched to gin rummy.

Where was the variety and spice in her life?  I can only think that it was gone before I ever arrived, although I think we loved one another an awful lot for most of my existence.

I worry, occasionally, about my own life, about what I’ll do with it when I reach whatever age seems deadly and past hope to me.  Maybe — hopefully — I’ll never land where (I think) she is, but people used to always comment on how similar we were.  I worry.   I wonder if I’ll think I did all that I was supposed to do, or if I’ll spend my remaining time daydreaming, wondering like I did when I was 10 if my life had been somehow switched with someone else’s, someone more fortunate or valuable.

But I like to think that for all the books I read, for all the time I spend writing or watching television or playing old computer games….I like to think that my life is spicy and various enough.  I like to think that there are people in my life who make it bigger than just me, people who I love and who love me in return who will remember with me all the ridiculous and wonderful things we did back when we could still hold our liquor.  I like to think I won’t ever be sorry for any of it, and that no one will ever look at me in my old age and think that’s all there is or ever was.  I like to think they’ll know — without a doubt — that I was happy in my life.  There was singing and silliness and joy and love…and all the spice I could’ve ever wanted.

And no matter how boring or unhappy it might have looked to anyone else, I’d like to believe that Gran’s life was happy enough, too. I wish I could go back twenty years, sit with her at her kitchen table, and ask her, nonchalantly, over coffee.
I’d like to imagine that she’d clear her throat, close her hands around the mug, look me in the eye, and be honest.

*Inspired by The Daily Post prompt Spicy