Running in Heels

February 28, 2016 at 6:40 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

51RViTYQLSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgTitle: Running in Heels

Author: Mary A. Perez

This book was hard for me to read, mainly because – post motherhood – I have discovered that reading about terrible childhoods pulls at all the wrong heartstrings.  Getting through the beginning and wanting to scoop little Mary away from all the mess, while simultaneously wanting to save her mother from herself, was stressful.  The things I loved about The Glass Castle are the same things that, after having a daughter, held me back from finishing The Liar’s Club.  Things I have the stomach to deal with in real life, because it needs done, is not something I have the stomach for in past tense memoirs, because what is done is over with now.

Mary’s memoir remains hopeful and hope filled.  After all the trials and tears, she comes out the other side, not just ok, but happy.  For this reason, I plan to donate my copy (that was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review) to the women’s ministry down the street.  There are so many people who could be blessed by her story.

She’s a quick paced writer, a little repetitive at times, but that is the way it is with memory: certain things stick out and you rehash them trying to make a bit of sense from them.  A mother who doesn’t like to cook is one thing, one who won’t cook is quite another.  As an adult, a mother, a grandmother, I imagine much of this repetition is bafflement and she articulates the differences at different ages through her life.  A child will say “mama doesn’t like cooking” whereas a woman would look back and think, “Why didn’t my mother cook for me?”

Through much of the book, Perez tells you the facts, and leaves you to infer your own conclusions as a nurtured adult.  Through obviously more emotional periods she tells you what she was feeling and leaves you to infer the facts.  It’s a riveting tactic.

 

 

 

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Wild

August 29, 2015 at 3:27 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

I wrote this review for work months agoUnknown, and it was posted on our website for a time, I think.  I suppose it’s about time I share it with my own audience.

Title: Wild

Author: Cheryl Strayed

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.  It is what it sounds like: a memoir about an out of control woman who strays.  It could very easily be placed in the same category of Eat, Pray, Love, by my Christian counterparts especially, but somehow I can’t lump the two together.  As a writer, Cheryl has more Bill Bryson (author of A Walk in the Woods) qualities than Elizabeth Gilbert ones.

Cheryl is lost, inappropriate, cheats on her wonderful husband, divorces, does heroine, has almost a complete disregard for herself while simultaneously worshipping her own wants.  It should not make for a good read.  But somehow it does.

Cheryl doesn’t relish in these moments.  She doesn’t glorify them or justify them, she just tells her life how it was, and how she discovered that being comfortable in your own skin, alone, in the wilderness, can be just the provision a lost soul needs.  She doesn’t abandon a marriage for a grand tour and love affair with an air of flippant disregard- instead she tells a story of how when you have a huge hole in your heart you drown yourself and everyone around you.

Though the Pacific Crest Trail is long and grueling, Cheryl’s book about her trek is not.  She is down to earth, shockingly honest, clever and witty about her past ignorances, and leaves you feeling a sense of hope for not just yourself, but for everyone who struggle.

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The Secret Life of Captain X

September 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

P1000345Title:The Secret Life of Captain X

Author: Mrs X Nomore

Genre: Memoir

Length: 232 pages

If the title isn’t ominous enough, what comes after it tells you all you need to know: “My Life with a Psychopath Pilot.”

I was on the fence about this book.  It sounded so intriguing, but psychopaths (as the author mentions) are often described in ways that don’t address the mundane in them – it’s always some fantastical Hollywood version, involving axes and whatnot, rather than the every day drama a psychopath will stir up.

Part One is well written (well, the whole book is well written) although a tad whiny.  It’s hard to read the first half of the book and not think, “Ok, the guy is a manipulative turd, but a person doesn’t have to dwell on everything that sucks for so long.  People, especially in relationships, have shitty years… but to be victimized for twenty-two years, there has to be more than this one sided ‘I was always lonely’ business.”  She sounds miserable from the start.  But hang in with Mrs X Nomore and her story – she’s letting you know what makes you a target.  She’s identifying the reasons why she was blinded by the love bombing and the falsehoods… she WAS lonely and unhappy, she was seeking love, she did not have many solid relationships with people nearby.  As someone already feeling isolated, she was in the perfect position to be duped.

Despite my annoyances at all the red flags (that though I may not have identified as psychopath behavior would have turned me off real quick, now, not necessarily a year or two ago), the story propelled me rather rapidly into the graphic details of Mrs X’s discoveries during the divorce.  The man really was a sick freak, trolling the internet for prostitutes, girlfriends, and more victims all during their marriage.  I could have done without some of the descriptions and skimmed over a lot of Captain X’s sex site postings that are quoted in the book.

This book is not for the feint of heart.  Well done, Mrs X Nomore, for getting out of there and finding your therapy in writing.  I think it’s obvious that writing the book was healing for you and your purpose of raising awareness about psychopathy is succeeding.

This book makes you realize how easy it is to want to judge and say decisively what you would or wouldn’t do in a similar situation – but no matter how hard I try to put myself in the same situation in my mind’s eye, there’s really no telling.  Although I may have crossed paths with psychopaths and sociopaths over the years, I was never married to one, and a marriage bond makes all the difference.  How do you try to be “one” with someone who has no conscience, no empathy, no remorse?  You don’t.  As soon as you find out, you run for the hills.

Despite her age, Mrs X Nomore has a young writing voice.  She seems pretty hip for someone with arthritis, replaced hips, and a grown daughter.  I giggled when she called her new apartment her new “digs.”  It was hard to reconcile the age she kept telling me she was with her writing and her story.  Mostly because of social constraints, I think.  It’s easier to envision a nineteen year old being duped in such a fashion – much harder to know she married him at thirty-nine and she was getting divorced during her “golden years.”  It’s just another point she has to prove to the public: It doesn’t take a young girl to get suckered by a man like this – just a woman looking for a relationship.

I both love and hate the way this book is structured, mostly because it presents some very specific implications:

Psychopaths exist.

This level of deception happens….

and the deceiver is not who you’d expect.

Psychopathy (/saɪˈkɒpəθi/) (or sociopathy /ˈsoʊsiəˌpæθi/) is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior. It may also be defined as a continuous aspect of personality, representing scores on different personality dimensions found throughout the population in varying combinations. The definition of psychopathy has varied significantly throughout the history of the concept; different definitions continue to be used that are only partly overlapping and sometimes appear contradictory. – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

In the epilogue, Mrs X Nomore concludes:

I didn’t move to Costa Rica to escape psychopaths.  They are everywhere, easily blending into a crowd.  We shouldn’t live in fear, but we must be aware that up to four percent of our population is made up of these social predators, and we should avoid them at all costs.

She also lists a plethora of additional resources for continuing your education on the topic, as well as finding healing if you have been a victim.

 

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Journaling Through 1000 Days in Venice

July 17, 2014 at 9:21 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

1000 days in veniceTitle: A Thousand Days in Venice

Author: Marlena de Blasi

Genre: Travel/ Memoir

Length: 272 pages

“1000 Days in Venice,” I wrote in my journal, “I want Venice without Fernando.  Venice sounds lovely.  Fernando, annoying.”

I suppose I feel this way because I am happily married to a man who is nothing like Fernando.  But my love, or lack thereof, for the man who swept de Blasi off her feet has nothing to do with my enjoyment of the book.  The book is lovely.  And what follows are my journal entries from my reading, quotes that moved me and so on:

To fall in love with a face is ridiculous – at least a face with no personality.  It would be as though I were to declare myself in love with Jamie Campbell Bower off his side profile.  I cannot stand that mentality.  A face can only be so lovely.

“full of tears and crumbs”

“I cry for how life intoxicates.” – pg. 29

In love for the first time?  But she had babies…

She laments that so many people are trying to save her from a man they don’t know.  Then admits repeatedly that she doesn’t know him either.  I want to save her too,  no matter how terribly romantic I find it that she’s sold her house, auctioned belongings off in the airport and arrived to see her fiance whom she has never seen in summer before.

Then again, arranged marriages work – why not a marriage between people who have met a few times and spent a week together?

“Living as a couple never means that each gets half.  You must take turns at giving more than getting.  It’s not the same as bow to the other whether to dine out rather than in, or which one gets massaged that evening with oil of calendula; there are seasons in the life of a couple that function, I think, a little like a night watch.  One stands guard, often for a long time, providing the serenity in which the other can work at something.  Usually that something is sinewy and full of spines.  One goes inside the dark place while the other stays outside, holding up the moon.” – pg. 147

Such a beautiful sentiment.  So much truth to it.  Despite the fact that she married a stranger – even calls him that, stranger – she knows marriage.

Transfer? Why? I don’t want to live another version of this life.  I want to do something totally different, but together.  Perhaps my dislike for Fernando is that he reminds me of myself.  In this moment, I love him, he lives what I want.

I give lots of memoirs away once I’m done reading them.  But this one is a keeper – there are recipes.  Besides the recipes, it is beautiful.  I will probably read it again one day.

 

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Hyper-focus vs. Distraction

July 13, 2014 at 9:05 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

ADHDTitle:ADHD According to Zoe

Author: Zoe Kessler

Genre: Self-help / Memoir

Length: 208 pages

I’ve been called obnoxious, eccentric, and neurotic.  I’ve been called charming and passionate.  I’ve been called awkward and introverted, I’ve been called enticing, engaging, and the life of the party.

I have been accused of inattentiveness.  And of over attentiveness.  Sometimes from the same people.

I’ve been compared to those with extreme anxiety and to those with manic depressive disorders.  I’ve also been told that I’m none of those things and am quite normal – by some not-so-normal people.

I’m typically punctual, but it takes me two hours, careful planning, and a color coded calendar I’ve maintained since childhood to remember I have an engagement in the first place.

Apparently, these are things that fall in line with the potential to be diagnosed as ADHD – which I find rather interesting.  I’ve often viewed ADHD as a bogus excuse for people to be rude and frazzled, and to be chronically late to work (when I have taken such great care to not be late).

I, too, forget to eat or use the restroom because I don’t notice it needs to be done until I am near famished and shaking with hunger or my bladder feels like it is about to explode.  Then I gorge myself until people are genuinely in awe that so much food can go into such a tiny human, and try to remind myself to schedule a bathroom break.

I nervously remove myself from the house to go on walks or bike rides.  I’ve always been actively involved in independent sports and often been a bit of a work out junky.

The house must be spotless before I sit down to do things – especially things like homework when I was in college – but once sitting I dive into intense “hyper-focus” as Kessler calls it – oblivious to my dogs, any noise, and often leaving my child to choose to do a parallel activity on her own.  She builds with her blocks while I read.  She paints while I write.  We day dream together, but separately.  I have to purposefully schedule ‘homeschool’ time so that it is not neglected.

When my hyper-focus is gone, so are my eyelashes as I have absentmindedly plucked them out with my ever moving fingers.

I need to see people, but then I am overwhelmed at public gatherings.  There is so much noise that I tune it all out and hear or understand almost nothing.  At the same time, even though I may not hear a timer buzz when I am focused, the slightest noise when I am unfocused pains my ears greatly.  I often complain to my husband that music is too loud, or the fan blowing keeps me awake, but someone yelling at me across a bar may go completely unnoticed.

I don’t know if I have ADHD.  I took that Jasper/ Goldberg test and got an 84.  Supposedly, anything over 70 is a good indicator you might be.  I don’t care to find out, however.  Even though,  I’m sure my husband would love to understand why the floors and walls are thoroughly disinfected and free of visible particles, but the laundry is never properly folded and God only knows where I dropped the mail.  But I do know that I identify greatly with Kessler’s memoir and I think it is a worthwhile read for anyone – not just those seeking information about ADHD.

It is good for the general population to understand that what is done automatically for some takes a lot of work and practice for others.  For me, just getting out of bed involves a mental checklist, a peep at the day planner, and a journal consultation for any previous lists as well as an opportunity to write another list.  Not to mention that once I am out, the process of making coffee in my french press is how I time my moseying.  Ten minutes to boil water, three minutes to steep.  If my moseying is not timed, I’ll never get out of my pajamas, remember to brush my teeth, brush my hair, or leave the house.  The dogs will not get to go potty if I am not simultaneously dumping coffee grounds in the garden.  Miss one step, and the whole day is lost to me.  My calendar never leaves my bedside and I forget I had a lunch date.

If I have ADHD, I think it has been pretty counter balanced by the stimulation and hyper-focus required to get through my GT classes growing up.  My choir director required a color-coded paper day planner.  My mother required ledgers and lists.  My father, the ex-boyscout had a constant mantra: “Always be prepared and always be fifteen minutes early!”

It doesn’t mean that my mind doesn’t do exactly what Kessler describes.  Especially her “commune with nature” bit.  Without my walks in the woods, I definitely “become cranky, confused, and mentally foggy.”

Instead, it means, that somehow through a lot of self-awareness, self-discovery, panic attacks, and then some… I’ve managed to create in my life goals and careers a little cocoon of an existence that eliminates a lot of the frustrations and issues that could come about for an ADHD person.

I work from home and Kessler says, “Finding work that’s meaningful to you is key.  If you’re hypersensitive, consider self-employment.”

She offers advice that I have already taken… Little things like I know I lose my keys about three times a day – I have never lost them in public though because the first thing I did when I got keys was put a climbing hook on one of the key chains so I could fasten them to my belt loop (I almost always wear jeans).  I did this at seventeen because my father always told me, “You’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on.”  So I found a way to screw my keys on, basically.

To the bane of my husband’s existence, I never remember to put them into the key bowl (maybe six out of ten times they make it where they belong… other times they may be found in the freezer, the pantry, the counter, the bathrooms, my bag, another bag…).  Many times I have posted facebook status requests for one of my friends to call my phone, because I have no idea where my hands let go of it.

I know people who were diagnosed young and as adults they seem to have this idea that they are not responsible – for their actions, their tardiness, or their bills even.  My sensitivity, I think, is limited to physical sensations, because I’ve always thought With everything I go through to get it together, you can too.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.   Impulsively I have said this, without tact, out loud.

Self awareness is important but diagnosis, I think, can be rocky waters.  Kessler seems to walk this road with finesse, owning up to feelings she has hurt while making sure she pursues endeavors that will work with her ADHD, rather than against it.

I like her writing style and look forward to picking up a copy of her first book (perhaps another sign of ADHD as I confess my hoarding tendencies): “Adoption Reunions.”

The most familiar part of the whole book:

As for my shoulder-length hair, I put it up, then down, then up, then down throughout the day.  I constantly fidget and fuss with it, something others have commented on repeatedly. […] a loose strand on my neck or the side of my cheek drives me crazy.  To get it off my neck, I’ll bunch it up in a knot.  Before long, it feels like someone is driving brass knuckles into my skull just where I’ve knotted my hair, so down it comes.

Not long after that, she writes: “Flashing lights, large crowds, and emergency vehicle sirens can be unbearable.”

Every day, Zoe, every day I am with you.

adhd

 

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Circle of Quiet, Trails of Solace

June 17, 2014 at 6:37 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

circle of quietTitle:A Circle of Quiet
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Memoir/ Spirituality
Length: 229 pages

A Circle of Quiet is powerful.  So powerful it inspired me to write nearly 10,000 useable words, to writers you may note the awe I have when I say useable.

Some were used for the sequel to my novella, a novel that is supposed to come out in the fall of this year – fingers crossed.  But most of the words were for a new book, stories about my trails in the woods that are itching to be told but I’ve not known how to tell them because it’s all still happening, my trails are still real.

What is most impressive to me about A Circle of Quiet is not how many beautifully quotable quotes there are, but how completely relevant L’Engle’s story is to me.  So relevant, I didn’t noticed until 3/4 of the way through the book that it was published in 1972 and the things she writes about occurred in the early seventies if not the late sixties.

I was baffled to discover this.  A Wrinkle in Time and the rest of her children’s books are as fresh to me as the Harry Potter series.  I read them as I child without the impression that they were old.  In my mind, L’Engle has been an author of the 80’s who would be around as long as C.S. Lewis once the years had passed.  I did not realize that the books were much older than that and that the years had already passed.  A Wrinkle in Time was first published in 1962.

How is this possible that every moment, every ache, every joy (aside from winning the Newberry of course, as I’ve won nothing) is one I feel in every fiber of my being as a thirty year old in 2014? When she was born in 1918.  What struck me most is that A Circle of Quiet is timeless.

Madeleine L’Engle is timeless.

This is a must read for any mother, any writer or creative, any soul searching for God, any person trying to balance their introversion with their extroversion, and ultimately any person.

She published these from her journals, which she admits were written for publication, but still I am honored to have been allowed a peek into the window of her thoughts.

 

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Literary Journal Monday – Earth Day, Every Day Part Two

April 15, 2014 at 12:18 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Blackwood 1It’s April, it’s spring time, it’s RAINING! To bring May flowers, of course.  So, I jumped head first into an April 1968 edition of Blackwood’s Magazine, more specifically, Roy Neal Williams’ Mushroom Weather.

I’ve never heard of Roy Neal Williams before today, but I definitely can say I’ll remember him.  His memoir about his grandmother and their adventures foraging in the woods for mushrooms with his german shepherd mix, Shep, is right up my alley.  His prose is nice and playful, easy to get right in step with the spring time atmosphere he is describing from his childhood.

Mushroom Weather 2

The time spent in the woods and the property with his grandmother is looked back upon so fondly.  I hope that my daughter remembers her time with me in the woods as well.  And I like his grandmother,

“She stopped and looked at the flowers.  All was quiet.  There was only the sound of the water as it rushed along its way, cutting round stones and making miniature waterfalls from a flat rock or a fallen limb.  An occasional bird would chime in and, in the distance, we could hear Shep yelp now and then.”

He explains how they collected mushrooms, morel mushrooms, and then took them home and soaked them in preparation to eat the next day.  As he slept that night he would dream of the delicious dish that awaited him the following day.

The forager in me couldn’t help but come home and search the web for images of these tasty treats.  Below is a picture of morel mushrooms that serves as a link to the Morel Mushroom Hunting Club.  How exciting – and odd – is that?

morels

 

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Interview with Comedian Jeff Hodge

March 3, 2014 at 2:48 am (Interviews) (, , , , , )

Jeff HodgeI’ve had the pleasure of reading Jeff Hodge’s Road Trippin’ over the last few months. I’ve been plucking through, taking my time with this delightful memoir, trying to get to know this comic and his world one day at a time. I’m so excited about this former Houstonian, I was able to talk him into doing an interview with me!

1. Describe your book and its inception. What was your muse so to speak?

My book, “Road Trippin…The Life And Times Of A Comic On The Run,” is pretty much a compilation of short stories of incidents that happened to me back when I was out on the road performing as a young comedian in the early 1990’s. Over the years, I would share these stories with friends and fans and people would suggest that I write a book. I never took it seriously until one day in 2011, a buddy of mine, who is a big Chelsea Handler fan suggested I read her book, “My Horizontal Life”. After reading the book, I said to him, every comic have stories like that. He suggested I write a book and so I did and that is how “Road Trippin…The Life And Times Of A Comic On The Run” came about.

2. Many authors are heavily influenced by their environment when they write. Where is your safe space? Do you have mood music?

I am a night person so most of my writing takes place late at night when everyone is asleep and I am up watching the ID Channel. Usually turn on soft music (I prefer love songs because they help me think better) and just get to pecking away on my laptop.

3. How does writing for the stage differ from writing for a book?

Writing for the stage is different from a book in that when I write for the stage, I get feedback immediately as I perform it. With a book, I have to wait until the book comes out. Some one reads it and then I get their feedback. The long wait time can be tedious and frustrating.

4. What do you find to be the easiest of the writing and editing process? What is the hardest for you? (Both in comedy and for publication.)

To me, the writing process is easiest because I just write the words as they come to me in my head. I hate the editing process because by the time the book is actually published, I have read my book 100 million times from reading and re-reading it making all the edits I need to make! (Hahaha)

road trippin5. Obviously, Road Trippin’ is a memoir and therefore a representation of your life. Is this an accurate representation of your whole life or just the parts that fed into your life as a Comedian?

Road Trippin’ is an accurate representation of just part of my life when I was on the road touring as a comedian back in the early 1990’s. I will be following up Road Trippin’ with more books on other aspects of my life.

6. Did you learn anything about yourself or the world you live in by writing this book (that isn’t included in the book itself)?

Yes. The thing I learned about myself while writing this book is that I have come a long way since I started doing comedy. Sometimes as comedians, we get so focused on defining success as being on a tv show and selling out auditoriums but we lose focus on the journey that we’re on and miss out on a lot of the little things along the way. Writing this book really took me back to venues and places I had performed in earlier in my career that I forgot about after all these years.

7. How have your friends and family reacted to your story content?

My close buddies took the book in stride because they had heard some of the stories in the book over the years. My other friends and family were shocked. They didn’t know one could do all those things on the road as a comedian if you weren’t a star. My mom is still waiting for her copy! (Hahaha)

8. You’re a very different sort of writer than I usually feature on my blog – most are novelists who are passionate for the written word in general. I know you are passionate about comedy and the stage, but are you a reader? What are your favorite books? Your favorite authors?

Yes, I am a reader, but I don’t get to read as much as I would like to. Too busy performing, producing shows, auditioning, writing, etc. I am what you may call a binge reader, I don’t sit down and read all the time, but when I do, I might read 2 or 3 books in one sitting. My favorite kind of books to read are autobiographies, biographies or military or spy thrillers by authors like Tom Clancy.

9. What have you been up to professionally and personally since the publication of this book? What are your future plans?

Since Road Trippin… has been released, I have been actively promoting my book by making appearances at book club meetings, doing interviews and doing shows in the LA area. My future plans include writing a couple follow up books to Road Trippin… that go more in details about my life living in Texas & California.

10. If there is ONE thing you’d want fans to know about you, what would it be?

One thing I want my fans to know about me is that I’m a hard-worker, funny and love to create and entertain.

Comdey Jam Jeff Hodge

Visit Jeff’s website and follow him on twitter.

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An Autistic History

February 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

notevenwrongTitle: Not Even Wrong

Author: Paul Collins

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Memoir/ Psychology

Length: 245 pages

I’ve journaled nearly twenty pages of commentary on this book.  Now, having finished it, I’m not sure what I should share and what should be kept to myself.

Collins does a spectacular job sharing memoir with known history, diving into tales from the world and mixing it with tales from his personal world.  The first few chapters are dedicated to his pursuit of Peter the Wild Boy and an existing desire to write a biography on the mysterious boy who was ‘rescued’ by King George. (Reference to the boy made in Notes and Queries, of course.)  Collins later discovers his son is autistic.

The entire book is an ode to his son and his autism.  An ode to their life, their relationship, the world of Autists.

Therefore a lot of information is shared regarding what that means.  A lot of reflection on the gene pool it takes to cook up such a neurological anomaly that is an essential part of humanity as a whole.  The trifecta being science, art, and math.

Collins writes on page 96:

Apparently we have been walking around with the genetic equivalent of a KICK ME sign:

my father: mechanical engineer

jennifer’s father: musician, math major

my brother: phd in computing

jennifer: painter

me

At this point, I remember taking my own personal inventory.  My father is a civil engineer, not only that he was a musician and painter, and suffers from what I think is undiagnosed and extremely mild tourettes (also discussed in Collins’ book).  My immediate cousins and family members on that side of the family are musicians and scientists.  Some work in labs, some in an engineering field.  Although I’ve been an English and History girl my whole life, much to my father’s chagrin, I was raised by and around extremely scientific minds.  I think I get all the feelings and other eccentricities from my mother’s side.  But in a parallel universe, had I somehow procreated with people I had dated in college rather than the love of my life whom I married – musicians, computer geeks, Synesthesiacs (also discussed in Collins’ book) – I think I was very close to wearing that KICK ME sign as well.

Looking at the world through the eyes of Collins’ research, I think many people have been close to wearing that sign.  I think everyone should read through this book and see just how close.  It’s enlightening.  It’s scary.  It’s beautiful.

There are so many amazing people through out history who have changed the face of humanity – the way we work – integral parts of society and science… and they were very likely autistic.   Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Glenn Gould, Andy Warhol, Paul Erdos.  These people are essential to who we are as a species today.  These people have made our world more beautiful, even though they are very likely to be the same people described on page 109:  “Imagine if you tried to pretend to understand people, but didn’t really.  So you rehearse it all in your head: taking notes, analyzing every social action, trying to connect it all together.”  I don’t have to imagine.  I may not be a genius like Albert Einstein, I may not be as clever as Glenn Gould, and I’m certainly not nearly as eccentric as Andy Warhol – but I know all about rehearsing, taking notes, analyzing, and still feeling quite out of the loop.  A little bit of understanding from the rest of the world goes a long way in my book – even though I’m not so good at understanding the rest of the world, I’m trying to be better about it.

“You know, it used to be that when I saw someone acting or talking strangely, or just being odd on the bus, I’d think to myself: What’s his problem? I still have that reaction.  But now I stop, pause, and have a second thought: No, really, what is that man’s problem? There is a decades-long chain of events that created the person who are seeing.” – pg. 213

Paul Collins brings a little bit of humanity and the importance of curiosity and empathy into ALL his work.  For that I adore him, and will always adore him, forever.

On that note, I want to check out the artwork of his wife.  I love art.  I love paintings.  I am the CMO of an art company called Aoristos and I’m curious to see the style of art the spouse of my favorite author paints.  If anyone knows and can provide reliable links – please do.

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Committed – Part One

February 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

CommittedTitle: Committed

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Genre: Non-fiction of some kind. In a bookstore it would go in the memoir section, I’m sure – but it’s so much more than that.

I’m aware that when one decides to follow a book reviewing blog, they don’t expect the posts to start turning into self-aware sob stories.  However, I cannot fully digest a book without it becoming part of me and my psyche and putting  a little bit of pressure on my world view and myself.

When I read Eat, Pray, Love a few years ago, you may or may not remember my indignation.  I was so irritated.  This woman was so flippant! How dare she walk out on her marriage and go gallivanting and call that spiritual growth!  I loved Gilbert’s writing style, I loved her way with words, but all I could think was, “What a selfish whore.”

That was unfair.  I see that.

I’m reading Committed now.  A friend had told me Gilbert would redeem herself in my eyes in this book.  I was skeptical.  How could I ever see eye to eye with this woman?

But that’s the thing.  I don’t see eye to eye with her.  But now, I’m ok with that.  Not because of this book, though, I’m sure that helps; but because of me.  I’ve come to realize some things about myself in the very short time that it has been 2014.

I have a very intense moral code.  So intense, it is probably filled with much higher expectations for life than is humanly obtainable.  Stepping outside of this moral code in the past has left me trembling.  It terrifies me, because, simply:

I fall short.  It is impossible to live up to it.

I expect others to live up to it.  If we all strive to live up to it then maybe we can have a chance in hell of making it.

We don’t.

I see this now.

Yes, that makes me a hypocrite, I suppose.  Often.

Yes, that means that deep down I hate myself for not being able to live up to my beliefs.  Even saying this is in contradiction with my beliefs… I believe the whole bible to be true and even the bible says that we all fall short of the glory of God.  I believe in being a strong, independent, secure human.  Both of those things are in contradiction with me hating myself for falling short.

You see, it’s not just me being unforgiving of others.  I am completely unforgiving with myself too.  Especially when what I perceive as truth, and what I believe is right, is the polar opposite of what I want.

I was taught that my wants were frivolous nuisances to be disregarded.  Bury them.  Pretend they’re not there.  Doing what you *should* do is far more important than doing what you want.  Wants are things that destroy people, families, cities, empires.  Look at history – use your brain.  Don’t feel, use logic.

Somewhere in that teaching, there’s a logical fallacy.  Like Gilbert’s ice cream purchases correlating with drownings example – which made me laugh out loud.  (Statistically where there are higher ice cream purchases, there are more drownings.  Obviously, this does not mean that buying ice cream will increase your chance of drowning yourself, that would be a logical fallacy – yet, that’s exactly the kind of logic that has been ingrained in me.)

Now, 10 days away from 30, I feel a strong urge to fix this problem.

This is not something that can be fixed in 10 days.

Shockingly, despite my looming 10 day notice, I find myself a little at peace while reading Elizabeth Gilbert – author whose views I have previously found revolting – has spent page after page talking about forgiveness.

Things I have always been really cranky about – HOW does someone behave THAT way – she spells out.  Instead of just saying, “It happens,” she takes great descriptive pains that only an eloquent writer could take to tell me how.  To explain.  Pages 108-110 left me in tears.  Finally, I see why people have been so angered by my judgement.  Finally, I see why I have no right to judge.

I was wrong.  I’m sorry.

I’m not sure how this will effect my future decisions.  But at least I can start to not hate myself, whatever they might be.  Yay for mid-life crisis number two (and I’m not even mid-life yet, am I?).

I’m not finished reading yet, but I’m sure I will be soon.  I have so much to say and think about this book and there will be a second post on it in the future.

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