On Being Human

humans

The Humans, by Matt Haig is a book I downloaded because oregana at As I See It  posted a lovely review.  That’s really all you need to read to be enticed, but I was never one for failing to add my two cents worth, so that’s what this is.

What a delightful summation of human life from an aliens point of view.  Well, sometimes not so delightful, since the blunt truth can give us a jolt.

I know these are long quotes, but seriously, I had to stop myself from quoting the entire book.  That’s how good it is.

“Humans were always doing things they didn’t like doing.  In fact, to my best estimate, at any one time only point three per cent of humans were actively doing something they liked doing, and even when they did so, they felt an intense amount of guilt about it and were fervently promising themselves they’d be back doing something horrendously unpleasant very shortly.”

“….they are born, they make some friends, eat a few meals, they get married, or they don’t get married, have a child or two, or not, drink a few thousand glasses of wine, have sexual intercourse a few times, discover a lump somewhere, feel a bit of regret, wonder where all the time went, know they should have done it differently, realise they would have done it the same, and then they die.  Into the great black nothing.  Out of space.  Out of time.  The most trivial of trivial zeroes.  And that’s it, the full caboodle.  All confined to the same mediocre planet.  But at ground level the humans don’t appear to spend their entire lives in a catatonic state.  No.  They do other things.  Things like: washing, listening, gardening, eating, driving, working, yearning, earning, sighing, reading, gaming, sunbathing, complaining, jogging, quibbling, caring, mingling, fantasizing, googling, parenting, renovating, loving, dancing, fucking, regretting, failing, striving, hoping, sleeping.  Oh, and sport.”

“Humans, as a rule, don’t like mad people unless they are good at painting, and only then once they are dead. But the definition of mad, on Earth, seems to be very unclear and inconsistent. What is perfectly sane in one era turns out to be insane in another. The earliest humans walked around naked with no problem. Certain humans, in humid rainforests mainly, still do so. So, we must conclude that madness is sometimes a question of time, and sometimes of postcode.

Basically, the key rule is, if you want to appear sane on Earth you have to be in the right place, wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and only stepping on the right kind of grass.”   ― Matt Haig, The Humans

It’s another one of those books that made me laugh out loud on one page and shed tears on the next.  Can’t give it any higher praise than that.

The Cats Pajamas

cats pajamas

“We carry our ancestors in our names and sometimes we carry our ancestors through the sliding doors of emergency rooms and either way they are heavy, man, either way we can’t escape.”

“Her father is fastened to his room, with his records and his drugs and his quiet. She crawls under her covers. It is her fault for triggering one of his spells. Normally she can tightrope through his moods. At least it had been brief. Most girls do not have to deal with a father like hers. They would be afraid of the way she lives, lawless in a roachy apartment. They would be scared of his fits. Madeleine would be scared too, she thinks, falling asleep. If she had only experienced finished basements and dads who acted like dads. But Madeleine loves her father, and how can you be scared of someone you love?”

Marie-Helene Bertino, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas 

There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damn picture.

There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damned picture.

I don’t know why I included the word “damned”  in that caption.  Maybe because convalescing is dull and I think profanity will jazz up the experience.

Anyway, speaking of profanity and jazz, here’s the blurb about this book from Amazon:

Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.

I was a bit in love with Madeleine from the first page.  And crazy about her by the last one.  Sometimes the quirky prose in this novel reads like poetry.  It’s a good story, written from several different perspectives, over a time span of just 19 hours.  You’d be surprised at how much can happen to so many people in such a short time.

It’s a book made to be read in one sitting I think, and I might have done that if I hadn’t been so doped up on pain pills and falling asleep so much.  Today I haven’t taken anything, so I guess I can’t blame my sketch on mind altering drugs. This is how my brain sees a bar in the middle of the night.  What can I say.

I hope Marie-Helene Bertino writes another book soon.  I’ll illustrate it for her if she asks.  Huh.  Maybe the drugs aren’t completely out of my system.  But I’m very clear-headed when I say it’s the mark of a great author when she leaves you wanting more.

Rainy Day Read

the husand's secret

What?  Husbands aren’t supposed to have secrets, are they?  I read the book in the middle, according to my Kindle, but I quite like the cover with the butterfly in a jar.  I also love balloons, especially red ones.  So given the choice,  the middle cover is the one I would be least likely to purchase.  In case you were all wondering about that, now you can sleep tonight.

I’ve read “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty, and have “Big Little Lies” downloaded and ready to go, and now I’m looking at “The Hypnotist’s Love Story”, thinking that one could be next.  So it’s obvious I like this author and her stories a lot.  Sometimes my Goodreads star rankings are based on how quickly I finished a book, two days or less making four and five stars much more likely than if I had to slog through something or couldn’t force myself to care how it might end.

Well, so far, this is a rather stupid book review, but trust me, there are stupider ones out there.  I gave this book four stars.  It is a good readable story, well written, with interesting characters and plot, and a fantastic epilogue.  Every book should have an epilogue exactly like this one for us readers who don’t like endings which leave us wondering why all the questions haven’t been answered in a satisfactory manner.  Especially when the answers we come up with on our own are seriously lame.

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .(from Goodreads)

I was a little surprised at some of the negative reviews I read, which contained words like predictable, shallow and dull.   A one-star person said she didn’t have the patients to read more than 25 pages.  She also misspelled bullshit.  So let’s not take that one too seriously.  There are many five-star reviews too and I’m more inclined to agree with those.

I read this book in less than a day and a half.  I liked it.  And I know how to spell big words like bullshit and patience.  I hope that’s a good enough recommendation for you to give this author a go.

Pictures and Pages and Seasons Oh My

imageimageimageimageimageimagechapters

You might think, because of the nature of these book related pictures from various Facebook pages, that I have spent my entire Sunday reading.  But I haven’t.  I’m saving that for tomorrow, day two of two days off.   I’m part way through The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, which is turning out to be a book with no end in sight.  Had to take a break.

What I’ve actually been doing today is making myself feel less sad about the fact that there are only two seasons of Downton Abbey available on Netflix by watching The Good Wife instead. I didn’t notice how many seasons there are to get through on that one, but I’ll take a serious stab at getting to the end of them.

It’s a hard life I know, but don’t worry,  I’m managing okay.

List of Eleven

eleven

From 365 Days of Writing Prompts, January 3rd.

Kick It:  What is the 11th item on your bucket list?

I do not have a bucket list and probably never will have one.  I get exhausted just thinking about such things.  And W has become so efficient and organized doing the shopping that I don’t even have a grocery list kicking around anywhere from which I could take the eleventh item and use it to write something astounding.  Imagine an entire blog post on lettuce.

No, it’s okay, I can’t imagine that either.

Instead,  I’ve decided to focus on a couple of random words in this prompt and call it being creative.  Or maybe even inspired.  Although that’s probably pushing it.  So here’s a list of eleven memorable quotes from the book Eleven Minutes, by Paulo Coelho. 

eleven minutes

“Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria. Wait a minute. “Once upon a time” is how all the best children’s stories begin, and “prostitute” is a word for adults. How can I start a book with this apparent contradiction? But since, at every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss, let’s keep that beginning.”

“When I had nothing to lose, I had everything. When I stopped being who I am, I found myself.”

“I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It’s all a question of how I view my life.”

“When we meet someone and fall in love, we have a sense that the whole universe is on our side. And yet if something goes wrong, there is nothing left! How is it possible for the beauty that was there only minutes before to vanish so quickly? Life moves very fast. It rushes from heaven to hell in a matter of seconds.”

“I am two women: one wants to have all the joy, passion and adventure that life can give me. The other wants to be a slave to routine, to family life, to the things that can be planned and achieved. I’m a housewife and a prostitute, both of us living in the same body and doing battle with each other.”

“No one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone. That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it”

“Considering the way the world is, one happy day is almost a miracle.”

“Really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other.”

“No one owns anything. Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them. And if nothing belongs to me, then there’s no point wasting my time looking after things that aren’t mine.”

“Read. Forget everything you’ve been told about books and read.”

“She wasn’t a victim of fate, she was running her own risks, pushing beyond her own limits, experiencing things which, one day, in the silence of her heart, in the tedium of old age, she would remember almost with nostalgia – however absurd that might seem.”

There.  Now wasn’t that a lot more educational than finding out that I’ve always wanted to swim naked in Paris?  Well I certainly hope so.

The Joy of Being Booked

fall reading

Photo Credit “Eat Sleep Read”

Prompts For The Promptless Approach-approach conflict is the psychological conflict that results when a choice must be made between two desirable alternatives.

Oh for a life filled with nothing but approach-approach conflicts!  Should I read a book or take a nap?  Pick up an actual paperback or flip open my Kindle?  Read inside or outside? Or upside down?

I think I was born to read.  Time on my own with a book is one of this life’s greatest pleasures. I’m always just one good book away from an excellent mood.

Books are time travelling magic and sometimes it’s hard to start a new book when I’m still living in the last one.  And sometimes it’s equally hard to read just one book at a time.  I will be in the middle of something when I decide to download the next great read, and then I’m impatient to get into that as well.  Often I have three open books in three different places and my kindle collection in hand.  My head is full of delicious choices.

What authors mind and voice and soul will speak to me today?  Decisions, decisions.

From "Therapy Room by Joanna Cross" page on Facebook

From “Therapy Room by Joanna Cross” page on Facebook

My Monday

It’s best to get minor traumatic ordeals over with first thing in the morning, which is why I booked a hair appointment at 9:00 a.m. on my Monday off.  I know that’s an ‘orphan-which’ clause, but I dearly love my orphan-which clauses and don’t feel like correcting it.  One day I might be a famous author noted for just such a repeated grammatical faux pas.  In fact, maybe I’ll call my first best seller The Orphan Which.  Watch for that, and remember, you saw it here first.

Today my hair stylist pronounced herself ‘so super excited to fix this up!’ which (sorry, I’ve done it again) set off a couple of alarm bells in my head.  But there’s really no backing out once you’re sitting in that pumped up chair under the giant black cape of doom.

To soothe my frazzled nerves and quiet what’s left of my hair standing on end,  I have spent the better part of the rest of this day finishing the second book I picked up off a bargain table.  Every so often I like to read a real book, as opposed to an e-book, and these two looked like easy reading romantic novels with a bit of mystery thrown in. I was not expecting to learn all kinds of things about assisted suicide.  In not just one of the books, but in both of them.  Really, what are the odds?

me before you

Louisa Clark has been let go from the Buttered Bun Tea Shop and with very few marketable skills is desperate for a job.  Will Traynor has spent the last two years of his life as a paraplegic following a motorcycle accident, is depressed and in pain, and has lost his will to live.  His mother hires Louisa as Wills secondary caregiver, hoping to somehow add something to his life which will change his mind about his decision to end it.  Louisa isn’t initially aware of his plans, but once she finds out, she goes a little crazy doing everything she can think of to make him happy and show him that his life is still worth living.  It’s funny and heartbreaking all at once.  Any story that makes me laugh and cry is probably one of the good ones.  The outcome is never a given.  You might be surprised.

kiss me firstAnd now meet Leila, a solitary and sheltered young woman who has recently lost her mother.  She joins a chat forum and impresses the sites founder with her ethical debate, and is asked by him to become part of what he calls “Project Tess”.  Tess, a beautiful and popular woman with bipolar disorder, has decided to commit suicide but wants to pass her identity on to Leila so that it will appear to her family and friends that she has simply moved out of the country.  They e-mail, chat and Skype in preparation for Tess’s check-out day.  Leila is very opinionated, but doesn’t have a lot of people skills and constantly misinterprets events and situations after she takes over this new identity, and you begin to think that this cannot possibly end well.  And that’s why you keep reading, because you have to find out.

I love to be pleasantly surprised by books that have a lot more depth than their titles or covers seem to indicate.  I am also pleasantly surprised by this hair cut, now that I’ve had a few hours to adjust my head to its present state of lightness and air.

So, all things considered, it’s been a not too shabby day.