Thursday, September 29, 2011

I kissed a book.

This is a revelation less provocative than some and more suggestive of insanity than most. 

I'm reading The Art of Fielding and I am in love.  I'm not in love with the author, although I pause in my reading occasionally to bless, if not kiss, him.  I'm in love with Henry, with Schwartz, with Owen, with Affenlight, with Pella. Even just a little bit with Herman Melville -- who woulda thunk it?  I'm bedazzled.  Bewildered. Entranced.  My heart is busted right open and filled with the light that pours out of this book.

Which I guess accounts for why, having read the end of Chapter 15, I was so touched and exhilarated by the beautiful delineation of the human soul contained therein, that I planted a big smackeroo right on the screen of my iPad.  Which I never kissed before.  I swear.

[I know.  I know.  Let's set aside for a moment the issue of did I really kiss a book if I had to kiss it through a glass screen. Isn't that more of a prison visit, after all?  I actually do share your passion for the smell of libraries and the deliciously tactile experience of a "real book." I do.  But I also subscribe to the heresy that a book is a dance between two fully participating humans--writer/reader--and that dance can be danced on just about any medium which displays or purveys words that can be deciphered.  (If you've ever read a book on an iPhone, you know what I mean.)  And in my present state of mind, I can say with confidence that if Chad Harbach had written The Art of Fielding on &$#@*^% gum wrappers, I'd still be his girl.]

Have I read all the way to the end?  Can I guarantee anything about even my own satisfaction when all's said and done?  No.  I'm a rampaging reader and I think it's indicative of how much I'm loving this book that I keep stopping.  And waiting.  Actually savoring.  I'm studiously not reading reviews.  And this isn't actually one of those either.  This is a blog.  It's about me, me, me.  There are lots of reviews of this book out there in the world.  I'm entirely happy to keep it that way.  This is love, after all, and it doesn't bear a lot of poking and prodding.  It just is

I have a cherished memory of my penchant for crazy kissing that comes from the exhausting, exuberant days when our son was a baby. I kissed him of course, on his darling pink toes, on his downy head, on his angelic belly button. He was infinitely kissable. One late afternoon I was coming up the basement stairs with a load of freshly dried laundry -- baby shirts, baby pants, baby diapers (yeah, those were the days) -- and they smelled so incredibly baby and I was freaking tired out of my mind, of course, and not accountable for any of my actions.  So I planted a big old kiss right on the laundry.  I kissed a load of laundry.  With all my heart.

Sue me. 

I read all sorts of books.  I love all sorts of books.  I love books that serious bookers turn their serious noses up at. I mean it.  I have adored some bona fide trash. The New York Times and I are often not of one mind.  But I almost never pick up a book that from the first handful of words is as incandescent as this book is for me.

Over the top?  Well, duh.  Do I care?  Not a whit.  Am I in love with The Art of Fielding?  A book about baseball, for goodness sake? Yup.

Sue me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Post. Really?

Spring turns into summer.
Summer dissolves into fall.
Fall hovers on the abyss of October.
Where was I?

BOLO.  Be on the lookout. For a blogger on the lam?  That's me.

Here I am.  At last. 

So, actually.  Where was I?   So many places.  So little time.  Right here, I feel compelled to comment on the American Mindset which suggests that if one has not realized certain ambitions and accomplishments by the coming of autumn, one has wasted the summer.  Not true, I say.

Here's what I was not doing:

Publishing a novel.  (More about that in a minute.)
Learning Italian.
Training for a marathon. Or a half-marathon.  Or a five-mile, three-mile, one-mile run. 
Reorganizing the garage.
Redecorating the living room.
Hosting a Lake Day.
Finally, finally, getting into the kayak.
Becoming in any way better looking.
Getting in any way younger.
Writing in this blog.
Wasting a summer.

I had my summer.  Heaped up and running over.

I awakened early and mostly rolled over and went back to sleep, noting that yes, at 5 a.m. in June, the sun is already up.  Hurray for it.

I sat at our table with family and dearest friends on a fine number of occasions, relished the good food and savored the presence of the folks.  Sometimes the table was inside.  Sometimes the table was outside.  Always the table was safe under the canopy of love.  Dear friends.  You know who you are.

We had a lot of rain.  I love rain.  Mostly, I enjoyed the rain.  Mostly, I enjoyed the thunder ... if it came from at least three chimpanzees away.

We had bugs.  Not so many this year, but persistently returning. I don't love the bugs but I'm down with them.  Ephemeroptera.  They earn their name by living one day and dying overnight.  Go you, little bugs, I say.

We had a hot spell.

We had a cool spell.  And as noted, really, quite a lot of rain.

The pond got renovated and restocked.  We watched and blessed, but did not name, the new fish.  Nine goldfish surviving.  Possibly ten, but they move so fast, who can count them?  Four Golden Orfes (I'm sorry.  Is that NOT just the best name ever for a darting, shimmying, leaping little yellow fish?)  Two shubunkins.  (I'm sorry.  Is that NOT the stupidest name ever for those calico-colored beauties?)  

We lingered on the decks, not nearly enough.  But there were sailboat mornings and sunset evenings and screaming girls dragged about on inner tubes (only one or two, but still ... a little screaming girl goes a long way.) There were breakfasts and lunches and dinners consumed in the presence of a Great Lake and a lot of wistful squirrels.

There were raccoon nights of unprecedented bravado.  Those furry bandits care even less about where they go and whom they menace than the Honey Badger.  And we know The Honey Badger (to put it politely) don't give a ... darn.

I revised the novel.  Because:  

I found -- so serendipitously ... thank you, Lynn ... thank you Universe -- a writing partner who, having been writing and writing all along, has had a real novel published and because she is a stellar human being, let me read and comment on her latest novel-in-progress and agreed to read and comment on mine.  

If there were -- buried deep in my heart -- an alter ego who somehow knew what I had left out, what I was still searching for, what the book needed in order for it to be the book I could love without reservation and send whole and plenty-good-enough-for-me back into the forest where The Crafty Readers lurk?  That would be Tina.  

Tina, I can never be grateful enough. You are the pen pal I wanted when I was ten.  And also the one I needed this summer.  

Plus, thanks for introducing me to the awe-inspiring Mojito Literary Society and another *#(&@^ go-round with the *#&@^ Artist's Way.  *#&@^, I say. *#&@^!!!!  Which is exactly what the Honey Badger would say. 

So I spent, no, lavished, a lot of my summer on rewriting Somebody's Bound To Wind Up Dead.  Making it better.  Making it so good.  Loving it again.  

I read an incredible number of books, with both of my wonderful book groups and on my own.  I read classics, magnificent stories, terrific reads and enjoyable crap.  Fast and indiscriminately.  I loved them all.  Reading is so fun.  

I listened to retreats conducted by Pema Chodron, my defacto spiritual teacher. I listened to them in my car on my way to working out and on my way back from working out, several days each week.  Pema has taught me a bunch of stuff.  She is kind.  Compassionate.  Forgiving.  Encouraging.  And on tape.  So she couldn't beat me with the big stick for being a lazy student.  Not that she would, of course.  But that she should.

I'm learning from Pema to stay with what's uncomfortable or scary or sad and to be glad for life when it's sweet and sour and itchy and grouchy and good and bad.  And, once every two or three days, to be present and awake to whatever's here and now. For about 30 seconds.  I'm also learning to forgive myself for not being present every minute of the damn summer.  I'm learning all that from Pema.  Thank you, Pema.  I'm grateful.  No kidding.

I got my knees back.  Both of them.  I worked them out sufficiently to make them wholly acceptable unto me.  I need now to work myself out enough to make me wholly acceptable unto them.

I went places with Bill.  Stayed home with Bill.  Talked with Bill.  Ate the above-mentioned breakfasts, lunches and dinners by the Great Lake with Bill.  Lived another summer with Bill.  Lucky, I.  Thank you, Bill.  Always.  

The same goes for John. And Allie.  And Cujo. And all my other dear, dear people. You know who you are. 

And now summer is over.  Savored to the full extent of an idle, distracted, regretful, forgetful mind.  Which is a lot of savoring, it turns out.  

Let's BOLO for winter now.  

And in case you don't know from watching a lot of crappy crime-related TV, BOLO is explained in the post located right below this one.  

Summer may be over, but the blogger is back!