Currently (re)Reading: A Game of Thrones

I’m re-reading the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series in preparation of the next book, which I assume will come out at some point before the world ends and we all die. I originally read these almost five years ago, long before there was a TV show or hype beyond word of mouth – see how cool I am?! – but I need a refresher on the intricacies of the story, and who’s-fucking-who, literally and figuratively. Since I don’t watch the show, committing the next 5-7 months of my life to Westeros should get me fresh and ready for whatever sick, sad twist this series takes next.

I generally buy based on price and page count, so I don’t end up reading a lot of well known titles. As a result,  I don’t have much of a chance to connect with other people and discuss characters and plot when the topic of books comes up in conversation.  But in this case, almost without fail, I get a very excited wide-eyed breathless account of how much they love Game of Thrones. So that’s nice, I get to dish a bit. Unfortunately, since my last reading of it was five years ago, it’s hard to suss out where they are in the books, so popping off with spoilers is hard to avoid. Not to mention, they’re just making shit up in the TV show now? Until I figured that out, I was real confused and worried that I’d forgotten a lot more about the story than I originally thought. So to avoid being a plot spoiling,smug sounding jerk, I’ve told about four people what I’m reading, and just don’t mention it to anyone else.

(Aside: The only other series I’ve made it through is His Dark Materials, which wasn’t nearly as popular as GoT or Harry Potter. “You know, The Golden Compass? There was a movie with Nicole Kidman?” But nobody ever knows. Kind of depressing. His Dark Materials is a great series, check it out! I can’t vouch for the movie, Nicole Kidman unsettles me.)

I finished Book 1 last night. 704 pages down, 3,569 left to go!

Starship Go Boom

‘Debra Messing Space Bugs’ is the first of many failed Google searches I’ve made while trying to remember the name of this damn book. I’ve spent the past month trying to finish reading it, but the title escapes me unless I’m staring right at the cover. I know they made it into a movie, and I know Debra Messing was in it. Not according to IMDB she wasn’t! Or was it Isla Fisher? Nope, not her either. It was Dina Meyer, as it turns out, and the book itself is Starship Troopers.

Starship troopers cover

One of the best things about falling in love and moving in together is all the new books! My boyfriend’s tastes are very different from mine, but when I spotted his newly unpacked copy of Starship Troopers, I could not wait to read it. The movie is one big cheese-fest explosion covered in goo, and I loved it when I first saw it in theatres. It probably should not have come as a surprise that the book was nothing like that at all.

I wasn’t expecting hologram popups and hawt alien sex, but I was hoping for something to help move things along. For a book based in space, with rocket suits and dangerous missions, I just do not care. The book isn’t awful, just incredibly dull.  It reads like a long college lecture, with no excitement in the descriptions or the story itself. The main character, Rico, is entirely blank, with no discernible personality beyond Guy Who Observes Things. I like Zim, but that’s about it. Maybe all the flashbacks are what’s pulling me out of the grove, or the stilted way it plods along. Whatever the reason, I’m bored.

I refuse to believe that Robert A. Heinlein, with all his influence and accolades, just isn’t for me. Possibly it’s the genre, but that doesn’t sit well with me, either. Sci Fi is never my first choice, but I’ve read enough to know that it interests me, generally. I’m more than halfway through, and out of respect for the author, I absolutely intend to finish it. Hell, I’d even like to give another one of his books a shot. But considering I’ve finished two other novels while also working through this one, probably not any time soon.

Over three years later, much has changed

I came back to Texas just before New Years Day, 2013. I stepped off the plane and over the next three months, watched my life fall apart. On to the next adventure, indeed.

Everything changed. Everything. I was living that old trope of looking into the mirror and not recognizing the eyes staring back. I felt as if every wonderful sparkling quality that made up my personality starting blinking and fading away. And for over a year, I couldn’t write. My muse, and the voice that came with it, just disappeared. No more husband, no more career. All my goals were gone. No more out of the blue story ideas in the shower, or long weekends reading books in bed. I dropped all my hobbies, and the houseplants slowly died. Even surrounded by all my new friends and suitors, I had nothing much to say. It was the loneliest time of my life.

Things got better, of course. It wasn’t easy, especially at first, but it did end up being full of interesting lessons, and surprisingly fun. And although I recognize that I am better for having been through it, I see a hard edge to my personality that wasn’t there before. The wide-eyed joy has been tempered down to something more realistic and suited to survival. I still drink more than I probably should.

But I’m in love, and I feel more complete now than I ever have, just two short months away from turning 30. And I am happy, even working a job I don’t really like, living in a city I swore I’d never come back to. It’s looking like I will get my happily ever after, after all.

Of course, I can’t properly sing this redemption song without saving a verse for the one grip of sanity that, through it all, kept me from falling completely into some dark and scary place. Can’t stay in bed when there’s mouths to feed and a litter box to freshen up. Her Majesty, the Queen:

Niena

Thank you, baby girl

My voice is slowly returning; a little raspy from disuse, but popping up more frequently. It is my hope that in writing this, more and more words will come. Even if nobody’s reading, this is my therapy.

Oh Snap: The Average American Male edition

the_average_american_male_a_novel.large

The cover kind of gives it away, huh?

From the Amazon reviews of The Average American Male:

It’s worth your time to examine the quality of the spelling in the positive reviews of this book in order to form an opinion of what marketers like to call “the target demographic.” Ask yourself: do I fit into this group? Do I want to? If you want to read something with a lot of unapologetic masculinity lying around for you to slip in, by all means read Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club” or “Choke.” If you want to read something with a ton of sex, please treat yourself to Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom.” If you want a good, old-fashioned story with great male and female characters and plenty of sex and violence, may I recommend George R. R. Martin’s “A Game of Thrones?” Under no circumstances, however, should you read this book.
Hmmm, sounds pretty dank. But surely someone liked this book?
If you’re easily bothered by misogyny, vulgar language, vulgar thinking, the objectification of women, or anything like those things, keep on browsing. Unless you think you are ready to be enlightened. Then go ahead and buy a copy.
Uh, no thanks. Sounds like the kind of “enlightening” this world doesn’t need more of.

Aw dog

racingintherain

Sniffle

Guess what? I’m on vacation! I’m typing these words while lounging on my ass with some ginger snaps and a cup of tea. Usually I spend any moment of free time reading, but this week I’ve been watching daytime television and surfing the internet more than anything else. I’ve been avoiding my Kindle, because every time I pick it up, it makes me want to cry.

I’m halfway through Daughters but I had to take a break. After following three generations of women already, as they go about their lives and make bad choices and defy their fathers and backstab and on and on, I wanted to scream. It’s well written, but plodding a bit. So, I’m finishing that one a few chapters at a time. It has become, as I like to call it, a Lunch and Loo book – I read it when I’m eating, or when I’m… well, you know.

Always one to exploit an opportunity, I went on a little buying spree and picked up two books to fill my me-time between getting back to Texas and getting a job. The Art of Racing in the Rain was one of them, and it sounded perfect for my purposes: told from the perspective of the family dog with short chapters and a quick, easy flow. Nothing too detailed, like something you’d take to the beach. Oh, but there is one small thing: It is also DEVASTATINGLY SAD.

It’s my own fault, really. Books about dogs are usually sad, doubly so if it’s told from the dog’s perspective. All the reviews I skimmed mentioned how much the reader cried. I thought to myself, ‘Nah. I’ll be fine. If I can make it through Where The Red Fern Grows, I can make it through anything!’ No. That is a lie.

I had to put the book away after just one chapter – 11 pages! – because I was reading in public and was one loving, loyal description away from bursting into tears. The story is so sweet and funny, with a lot of information mixed in about racing (in the rain!) to keep the plot going, but that good feeling doesn’t last. I’m on Chapter 15 now, not even 30% finished, and I’ve been reading it for 3 days. With any other book, I’d be nearly finished, I type with chagrin. I didn’t cry at the end of The English Patient. I didn’t cry at the end of Avatar. I shouldn’t be crying now!

I won’t quit though. I’ve got some tissues at the ready and my husband on speed dial in case I need to rage at him about the unfairness and wonder of life and all its mystery. Wish me luck, please, and pray I don’t drown myself in bittersweet tears.

On to the next adventure

The last time I remember having a $50 bill, I got it from my Uncle John. He came to visit me at work when I was 15, showing up unannounced on a Saturday afternoon after years of no contact. I was beside myself with excitement; we always had a special bond and I was crazy about my dad’s oldest brother.

That money meant so much to me. For weeks I agonized over what to buy, not wanting to waste such a precious gift. It wasn’t just money – this money had meaning. I eventually spent it on jeans, and I wore them until they started to shred.

Two years later he killed himself, and when I think of him now I think of that afternoon, our last one forever, feeling like the most important girl in the world.

I have a $50 bill in my wallet now, from selling my almost-new tablet to a very polite gentleman on Craigslist. This Saturday, my husband is organizing a yard sale and packing our things. With any luck, we’ll have a couple more $50 bills by the end of that so he’ll have cash on hand for the 16 hour drive back to Texas, where we will start our lives over, all over again. Everything must go.

Welcome to life! You will be betrayed; marriages end, families divide and secrets come out; loved ones die, by choice or by chance. People grow old and fat, and tired of trying. Life is wonderful and full of joy, but it isn’t easy and there are no real breaks for you to stop and catch your breath. As my sister once told me, “Life happens, and you have to keep up. If you’re not keeping up, you’re falling behind.”

Not everyone is up for the chase, and some of us just aren’t built for fighting. I am.

Iambic pedantic

I hate poetry. This is not an amazing revelation: as far back as I remember, I have always hated poetry. I’ve read a lot of it, written some of my own (my 1999 classic Cereal deserves its own matting and frame) but never, ever took a liking to it. I have a very smart friend, Drew, my only writer friend. He introduced me to Abuelito rum, Ernest Hemingway’s short stories, and a cute little bar in Denton, Tx with a bathroom made up as a library. I love him, but not his poetry. I will admit to liking parts of poems – I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears of all my life! – but only the parts, not the sum.

Poetry is heavy on suggestion, but light on content. You don’t get a whole story, only bits of feelings and things, with the rest up for interpretation. I hate it.

I like books.

There is one exception, however. The Hollow Men, written in 1925 by T.S. Eliot. It was meant to be primarily a comment on the War, Guy Fawkes and other political matters, but I don’t read it that way. My reading of it is the disillusion in mundane life and the constant seeking that is our nature, never satisfied, together yet alone. First impressions are hard to shake. (Fun fact: On The Beach by Nevil Shute, the single most powerful novel I’ve ever read, borrows from that poem for its title.) Every time I read it, I get chills.

I wish I knew why, and what it is about it that moves me so much, so that I can find more like it and fall in love with poetry. I’ve been looking and waiting, but so far there’s just the one. I hope I get lucky again, and find more of it that speaks to me. I like feelings and things, generally.

Alas.