Saturday, October 19, 2019

Must Love Coffee by Sarah Mayberry

Hey Carolyn,

I saw your post earlier about romance stories and what I think of as the "meh" factor. And I totally agree. It's something we've discussed before: the preference for a story with romantic elements rather than a straight romance. It's just so damned hard to find a romance that works on all levels anymore.

That's why I want to tell you about a novella by Sarah Mayberry: Must Love Coffee. Apparently it's based on a real story but whatever... I just really liked the book all by itself. And I think you will too.

Our h/h are Daniel and Cassidy. Two career people who are hooked on coffee and have back stories. This isn't super deep. Cassidy's husband was a cheater who left her for another woman and Daniel is aching over the loss of his fur-bestie. So they're both hurting.

They also both have a wicked sense of humor. And that's the crux of the story. Because Daniel as a joke declares himself the Customer of the Week at the coffee shop that he and Cassidy both frequent. And Cassidy with a sharp sense of humor and moderate outrage is not going to sit back for that (after all, her coffee addiction is just as stunning as Daniels.)

And a war begins. A war of humor. A war of cleverness. A war between two people who need to escape their daily lives and have fun (proving they're still alive, still vital, still here).

I'm not going to go too deep into this because it's a short book and I want you to read it. It's clever and cute but more than that also. Because it isn't really angsty yet it captures an angst that was very moving. There was, for both these people, a wish to win this funny war because they were feeling diminished by their recent losses.

I'm not very into romance right now but reading this book was delightful and I was grateful for it. Give it a shot Carol. Then call me and we can wax poetic about coffee and pets we've loved. I think we'll both enjoy that conversation.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

So ....

I guess it's time I lived up to our header and discussed some Romance, or at least tried to discuss it. And since I'm writing this at 3:00 a.m. my time, let's see if I can put down some ideas without sounding drunk.

I don't know if it's age (old), a different cycle of life (post, post, post menopause), or just being cantankerous, but it's difficult to find romances that catch my interest anymore. I buy books on sale that sound right up my alley as far as tropes and characters and I buy books not on sale that sound even better. The samples downloaded and then deleted without a sale are legion. And I end up rereading old favorites: anything Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs or Anne Bishop, anything Katie Ruggle writes. Oh, and S K Dunstall. Very little contemporary there, now that I look closely. Yet still I buy.

I find I'm tired of all the explicit sex. My vagina gave up the ghost long ago and I don't give a shit how many thrusts are involved in a sex scene. I want the warmth of character as written by the authors listed above and I don't care how much precum he can produce or how much liquid bedews her well conditioned thighs. 

I've always had difficulty distinguishing between some romances and erotica. Seems to me many books listed under romance are really erotica. And the unrest is spreading; I read hardly any historical romance  these days and since the one blog I do check out seems to be promoting gay romance that is not K J Charles, it doesn't interest me.

So now I mostly read mystery with romantic elements and I find it mostly satisfying. Don't read as much as I used to though. Now mostly I sleep (or try to, lol).

So this is a pretty choppy post, but not bad for 3 a.m., yes? I need practice.  :-)

Monday, October 7, 2019

Why I’m Fasting on This Yom Kippur

I’m best described as a secular Jew. I was born to Jewish parents and raised (till about age 15) in Temple. I was Bat Mitzvah, my mother was president of the Sisterhood and we never kept the Sabbath. Jewishness was an identity, equal to having hazel eyes and curly hair. We were Jewish because we were Jewish.

And then we really weren’t Jewish. But I was. I always was. Yet there was something missing. It wasn’t about belonging to a congregation or being Kosher. It was just… something.
So for my birthday, Carolyn bought me a book: Here All Along by Sarah Hurwitz. Sarah is a successful political speechwriter (she was Michelle Obama’s head speechwriter) and she was also a secular Jew. And now she isn’t. And reading her book is akin to having my own head sliced open and my thoughts spilling out.

I’ve always believed in my religion. Not the Messiah stuff because I don’t think some golden god being is going to show up and lead us to the Promised Land. Not to mention the Promised Land is no longer what it used to be and I do believe that this world is capable of being nirvana if people could only stop being people.

You know what I mean.

But I’m Jewish. And when the world seems to be going to Hell in a handbasket, I’m finding that more than ever my Jewish identity is screaming to be recognized.

Because we too were strangers in Egypt.

Because we too were victims of genocide.

Because we have been hated and blamed.

Because we have always been other yet always spoke up for others because that is what God told us to do.

Believing in God, in the tenets of what we were told, is believing in humanity and acting in the best interests of the world. We are told to fight for people, to protect people and to be kind to strangers. Because we were strangers also. Because we were abused also. Because we are chosen people (as are all who believe in one or less Gods) and chosen to be good people, moral people, shades-of-Barbra-Streisand people who need people, people.

The far right conservatives sneer and call the far left, SJW (social justice warriors). And I have to admit I think that’s a compliment, not an insult. I mean, would you rather be a warrior for social injustice?

So going back to Yom Kippur: when I was a kid we always went to the High Holy Days services. We fasted on Yom Kippur and sat in a stupor while the Torah was read. Again, the idea of atonement and real meaning of Yom Kippur wasn’t what we were there for. We were there because we were supposed to be. We were there because that’s what we all did.

This year I’m feeling like it’s what I’m supposed to do. To be empty from food and to remember that Yom Kippur is not just a day to atone for our sins but to atone and reflect on societal ills. It’s time to stop and ask is this world, is this country, is this community doing right in the eyes of God? Are we living like people who remember and honor those persecuted and do not want to see anyone experience that again?

When our President has given permission to Turkey to kill 2 million Kurds, I know my ancestors are screaming. I’m screaming. The world is screaming.

We have to atone. We have to figure this shit out. And we have to be better than this and make sure it doesn’t happen. We have to.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Donald Trump Doesn't Define Us

It's impossible to exist in America at this point in time without having strong feelings, one way or another, about Donald Trump. To some, like my brother, Donald Trump is the embodiment of winning. He's a below average white male who doesn't deserve, doesn't understand and doesn't care about the office he's in and he's the poster child for every inadequate white male out there who hated the past president for being the exact opposite (black, smart, deserving).

To many of us, we can only see the destruction this less-than-average man accomplishes and we only see how we as a country, as a people, are losing. Losing the gravity of the office of President, losing respect, losing our planet, losing our standing in the world.

On a personal level, I feel like Donald Trump is turning many of us into shell-shocked partners of a 
an emotionally abusive man. He's always attacking, always ready to perceive slight and erupt in vitriol and rage, leaving us shaken and afraid, hoping that the fists won't come out.

He's exhausting. If you look away for a minute then you'll miss the latest crazy, the last outrage, the newest damage to our democracy. But if you watch, if you haunt the news and social media, the constant assaults to our normality, to our lives just keep picking at your thoughts and soul. 

There is no winning with this man. Disengage and miss how he's destroying what matters (then come back and despair). Stay aware and despair because it doesn't stop. Ever. Every single motherfucking day there's something.

We're an emotionally ragged country. We can't sustain this.

And we need to learn not to. Not to look away because these are our lives, our future. But more than ever this is the time to return to art, to create, to craft, to fight the unrelenting ugliness of this man and his followers and create art. Art. We need art to keep us going.

Think for a minute about this. How many of us found that this world has sucked the joy out of us? Spend 10 minutes on Twitter and then think about crafting something and all you want to do is take a nap. 

It's so hard to create when emotionally you feel unbalanced. I quit writing after Trump became president and slowly a lot of my creativity went hot then cold then gone. (Admittedly, after Mollie went to Japan I've found it hard to create at all.)

We have to. We have to find that spot within us and nurture it back into being. Creativity is hope. It just is. It's reaching out into the void and finding celebration. Whether writing, art, baking, painting, working with Photoshop, knitting a scarf: creating always equals hope. 

And hope is what defines us as a species. Not hate. Not anger. Not Donald Trump.

I know it sounds simple but it isn't. This is a battle for peace of mind for those staying engaged. You can't live like this small man and his small sect of haters. Live larger. Embrace the world we love and refuse to lose. Hope is the thing created with brushstrokes, keyboards, flour spilled on the table. Raise yourself from the Netflix stupor and make your own short film, dance to BTS, dip your happiness in paint and reclaim yourself with a brush stroke.

Donald Trump does not define us because hope does. Reconnect with yourself, with your joy, with your soul. Create something. And remember that in doing so you're part of humanity and humanity prevails because humanity aspires.

Dream. Reach. Hope.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Mother of All Mothers

Depression is a mother. Not a sweet, nurturing mother but the Faye Dunaway ‘Mommy Dearest’ version with the wire hangers.

I’m depressed.

I don’t know what set me off today. I started the day okay but somehow something got away from me. I plummeted and found myself sitting at my desk wanting to leave my job, wanting to cry, wanting anything but what I had that minute.

That’s depression. Such a downer. 

It didn’t kick my ass. Not really. I talked to my manager and told her what I was imagining and she talked me off the ledge. But now I’m sitting here, still feeling the monster walking around my edges and I’m wondering why today, why like this and how do I keep it from happening?

I don’t have answers. I mean, I have some ideas. I asked my daughter to call me tonight but she’s busy and not sure she can. I was told that I don’t get to work in our Kona clinic with my favorite doctor because I said I’d rather work front desk instead of a revolving schedule. Because I didn’t get the job I applied for and I don’t know why.

So the depression monster bit me. Not a nice, little nibble but a huge chomp of my ass.

It’s a fight. I don’t think I’ve realized in the past how much this monster lurks in my life. Now I can see him, he’s not shadowed. But I don’t know how to fight him. How to stop the feeling as it shadows my vision.

I’m not going to up my happy pill prescription. I do well on a low dose and don’t want to kick the fake up. I’ll go to my therapist. I’ll recognize what is happening as it happens and pay attention to it. I’ll be honest with the people in my life when I’m battling. And especially those minutes when I’m losing.

But it’s exhausting. And I’m so so tired.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Redefining Your Past for Your Better Being

I started seeing a therapist recently for a few reasons. As mentioned the Empty Nest Syndrome is hitting me hard and the ennui of being in my 60s is kicking my metaphysical ass. If indeed I have a metaphysical ass and if I do I hope it's not quite as dumpy as my physical one.

Anyway... in our introductory meeting she asked me about myself and I introduced me, in a manner of speaking. And she said something so unexpected and mind blowing, she said to me, "You're so interesting."

Who? Me?

Her point in saying that is that she heard my story of myself and saw the ways I didn't make choices to fit the norm. Daughter adopted from China. Best friend a literal stranger in Alabama (yet the person whose heart I know and trust over all others). Fighting a lifetime to be heard. Taking chances without safety nets in place.

Well put it that way and I guess I am kind of interesting, yes?

I've been thinking about this a lot. Thinking how I've always judged myself as inherently broken because I don't have any long term committed romantic entanglements (after all, am I woman without a man?) I've never been very successful with my writing, despite being published by others. How I've framed myself in ways that take my accomplishments and make them look like failures.

I don't know if this is an inherently female trait or not, and that's something I might want to research. But as women we're always trying to be quiet in open spaces, to diminish ourselves, to not look ambitious or braggy and even worse, proud.

So I applied for a new job where I work that would be a serious step up for me, as well as challenging and exciting. (Every time I say anything about the job my immediate desire is to state that I don't expect to get it because I'm not qualified for it or something else self-deprecating. I'm not doing that because the truth is that I would be amazing at this job and bring some great ideas and changes to it that the hospital can use. So fuck off mind, I want and deserve this job!)

Anyway... I had my first interview for the position and was asked a standard question about "name one time you went above and beyond for a patient." And I thought for a few seconds and realized that I couldn't name one time because there are hundreds of times. So I told the interviewer instead that I try to go above and beyond for every patient because that's the standard of care I give. And then I instead told her the story of a time that a complete stranger I spoke to in a doctor's office changed my life by setting me on the path to adopt my daughter.

And in that moment I completely embraced the knowledge that my life is amazing. My life is full of stories of wonderful things. The first time I got a piece of writing accepted for publication when I was about 20 years old. The adoption journey. Moving to Hawaii. Meeting Carolyn online and starting the greatest friendship I will ever experience in this world (I seriously consider Carolyn and Mollie the two greatest loves of my life).

This post has meandered a bit but here is what I wanted to say: we are here and our roads might have been hard, we might have felt silenced or alone. But we're here and we have stories to tell. We have stories we've lived. And we don't have to climb mountains or swim in money to be interesting and important. Our stories and experiences when we don't diminish them are fascinating. We are fascinating.

So my therapist was correct in hearing me and noting that I've never taken the standard path and I'm interesting as hell. As are we all. And we need to remember to amplify our own voices and experiences no matter how much we think we're not deserving because we are. We deserve to be seen. We deserve to be heard. And we deserve to silence our own negative voices and see our past not as a road of failure but as growth and choices that brought us to where we are and the places where we deserve to be.

My past has had hardships yes, but what wonderful stories I can tell and have yet to live.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Just a little addition ...

                   Brawny Blondes!!