Tag Archives: Anne Lamott

currently … in a funk

That’s a photo from a Pirates game we were at in 2013 — a lifetime ago, really. I’m kind of bummed this weekend because The Husband and I had an actual, honest-to-God date planned down at PNC Park where the Pirates are, as I type this, playing the Yankees in a rare series. We like the Pirates just fine; however, The Husband is a Yankees fan and it’s not often he gets to see them. This weekend’s games here in the ‘Burgh would have been the perfect opportunity and I encouraged him to get tickets as a belated birthday gift for himself. Unfortunately, The Husband hurt his foot on Friday — we suspect a sprained ankle (he’s getting it checked out on Tuesday) — so he sold the tickets on StubHub and here we are, watching from the living room on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.

I was looking forward to the game, so not being able to go has added to my general bummed out mood lately. We’re dealing with a family situation that’s incredibly sad and difficult, one that falls in the “not entirely my story to tell” category of blogging, so that’s weighing heavily on our minds. We were in Philly last weekend for Easter because of this. It’s a hard time and being so far away from everyone right now makes us feel even more helpless. My attention span is nonexistent.

Reading … I’m in a bit of a reading funk. I brought Anne Lamott’s new book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy with me to Philly last weekend, thinking it might provide some comfort. I really wanted to like it but found it kind of rambling and scattered. That’s been the case for me with a few of her books lately. I’ve also abandoned two potential review books. I can’t seem to get into anything new.

This week wasn’t a complete loss in the books department. I finished The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes, a novel that draws heavily on the true story of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. In 1936, Stalin attended a performance of his opera and … well, he didn’t like it. Which does not bode well for Shostakovich, whose life is placed in danger. It’s a compelling story, one that feels especially relevant in these times. At times I felt a bit lost (I think the narrative assumes the reader has more knowledge of music and Russian history than I do) but I found it fascinating and disconcerting at the same time.

I also read Jennifer Jackson Berry’s new poetry collection, The Feeder, which is … emotionally intense. These are raw, personal, soul-bearing poems dealing with infertility and loss and sex and pleasure. I’m a fan of Berry’s work and this collection is one that stays with you.

Watching … Still in the middle of the first season of “Grace and Frankie.” Such a stellar cast in this show, which I am enjoying. I really want to see “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Maybe we’ll watch that tonight.

Loving … My new laptop. My hard drive died a few weeks ago and while it can be replaced (and we were able to save all my data), the laptop is four years old. The Girl really needs a laptop for homework so I decided to get a new one and repair my old one for her. Also, I’m loving this weather. It’s finally nice enough to sit outside at lunch with a book and on the deck after work.

Running … Slowly but surely, I’m starting to get back into some semblance of a running routine. There’s a great little walking path at my mom’s so I was able to get in a 1.25 mile-long walk on Sunday, with a little running tacked onto the end. We also did a walk on Friday evening too.

AnticipatingDewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is next weekend (April 29). I love this event, which happens every spring and fall, and I try to participate as much as I can.  I’m really hoping my reading rut will have ended by then.

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First Book of the Year 2015

First Book of the Year 2015

For the second consecutive year, Sheila from BookJourney is hosting the First Book of the Year 2015. I’ve always placed a great deal of meaning and importance on selecting the first book to start off a new year, so this event is perfect for me.

I want to focus on my writing this year. I’ve had that as a goal previously, but in a vague and undefined sense. Focus on the writing and Write more don’t quite cut it as goals.

So, this year I am planning to write more. I’m also planning to submit my work to more places and have set a goal of 20 submissions. That’s a huge stretch for me because I rarely submit; I intend to, but … I don’t.  This means establishing a system for myself, being diligent about checking Duotrope and other sites I subscribe to, and generally, being more proactive than I have been. If this is something I want – and I do –  I need to make this a priority.

How does all this relate to my First Book of the Year?

Well, I always like the first book to be something that connects to my New Year’s goals and this year’s is perfect.

It is one that has been on my TBR shelf for a long, long time. (So, it counts for Roof Beam Reader’s Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge, which I plan on signing up for.)

It’s always recommended to writers by other writers.

It’s quoted all the time.

I admire and respect the author.

And frankly, I really should have read this a long time ago.

Without further ado … my First Book of the Year!

Bird by Bird

I cannot wait to finally read this!

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Book Review: Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair, by Anne Lamott

StitchesStitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair
by Anne Lamott
Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group
2013
96 pages 

Stitches is described as a “follow-up” to Anne Lamott’s 2012 book, Help,Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. 

Which is why I almost didn’t read it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I happen to love about 98% of what Anne Lamott writes – but Help, Thanks, Wow fell flat for me and I assumed Stitches would be similar.

I was wrong.

I liked this more than I expected. Maybe it’s because I read this at a good time – meaning, during a time when Anne Lamott’s words resonated moreso than usual. (“Sometimes love does not look like what you had in mind.” (pg. 66)

Written in the aftermath of the Newtown, CT shootings, Stitches opens with the matter-of-fact statement, “It can be too sad here.” (pg. 1) We know immediately that the here Anne is talking about is our country, our society, our world. We know this even before she asks

“Where do we even begin in the presence of evil or catastrophe – dead or deeply lost children, a young wife’s melanoma, polar bears floating out to sea on scraps of ice? What is the point of it all when we experience the vortex of interminable depression or, conversely, when we recognize that time is tearing past us like giddy greyhounds? It’s frightening and disorienting that time skates by so fast, and while it’s not as bad as being embedded in the quicksand of loss, we’re filled with dread each time we notice life hotfoot it out of town.” (pg. 2)

The answer is to begin where we are.

“We live stitch by stitch, when we’re lucky. If you fixate on the big picture, the whole shebang, the overview, you miss the stitching. And maybe the stitching is crude, or it is unraveling, but if it were precise, we’d pretend that life was just fine and running like a Swiss watch. This is not helpful if on the inside our understanding is that life is more often a cuckoo clock with rusty gears.

In the aftermath of loss, we do what we’ve always done, although we are changed, maybe more afraid. We do what we can, as well as we can.” (pg. 13-14)

It’s a theme that Anne Lamott has used before, and if you’ve read her stuff for awhile, as I have, much of this now seems familiar. In Stitches, Anne carries the thread metaphor throughout the book in a way that feels comfortable, yet new – we’re all connected by the rag-tag threads holding us together, all we can do in difficult times is hold on by a thread.

Reading this is like wrapping oneself in a blanket, snuggling up for a much needed talk with a friend who gets it. No matter if you’ve covered some of the same topics before.

 

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