Strangled Charity

I have a decidedly dumb dilemma. Books. Too many of them. Well, more accurately I have too many uncorrected proofs. Nearly 70 different titles. In the beginning…we’re talking 2006..I was asked to join LibraryThing’s Early Review program. Here’s how it works: ever month LT posts a list of new books to be published and you request one to be reviewed before publication. I have been honored to “win” nearly 70 early publications and I have reviewed them all. Well, let me clarify. I have faithfully reviewed every title I have received. I’m still waiting for two…

In the beginning it was a pride thing. I was so thrilled to be asked to join this program that I saved every single book I was asked to review. I wanted to keep an entire collection of “librarythings” to mark the accomplishment. But now they are taking over! Ironically, the two favorites I wanted to keep I loaned away and never saw again (The Translator and Losing Clementine). But, back to the books I can’t keep. I argue with myself and moi about what to do all the time.

Here’s how it goes:
Me: We donate them to a charity?
Myself: It’s uncorrected proof. No one wants to read an unfinished product.
Me: We could donate them to a library?
Moi: You wrote tags, notes and stuff all through them. You underlined and dog eared pages. (Shame on you, librarian!)
Me: We could give them to friends?
Myself: And how would you decide who gets what? Think of that Orgasmic Pregnancy one! Who would get that?
Me: We could offer them up free to anyone interested near and far? FaceBook? They would just pay my shipping costs?
Myself: And what if people don’t send you $$ to mail them? You are trying to renovate your kitchen, remember?
Me: We could throw them out?
Moi: You would hate yourself and chase after the recycling truck to bring them back.
Me: We could just keep them?
Myself: Out of the question. You don’t hold onto books unless you love them. You are running out of room with things you don’t love.
Me: I do hate clutter.
Moi: See?

So. What to do? Maybe when the weather gets warmer I’ll set up an alfresco book store with a big ole “Free” sign and see what happens. It could be a study in sociology. Do people like uncorrected proofs? Would they mind my in-page musings? Do people like free no matter what? And who will take that Orgasmic Pregnancy book?


Yes You Can!

Drake, Jane and Ann Love. Yes You Can!: Your Guide to Becoming an Activist. Ontario: Tundra Books, 2010.

Right away I have to say I wouldn’t have classified this as “juvenile” literature. The language might be a little simplistic, definitely geared toward young adults, but the message is something we should all sit up and take notice of no matter what our age: if the world around you makes you sick do something. It’s the age-old promise, “you CAN make a difference!” But first you have to DO something.

Yes You Can is a how-to manual of sorts. Each chapter covers a different step to becoming an activist including an example of someone taking that particular step. The histories of organizations such as Amnesty International and Save the Children illustrate what can happen if the right steps are taken successfully. For every chapter there is a section on the historical time line of that step in action. There is also a section on the accomplishments as well as the challenges called, “Milestones and Setbacks” which put everything into perspective. Almost like a textbook there is a checklist to test what the reader has (or hasn’t learned). My favorite piece of advice was “know your cause inside and out.” The ability to see both sides of any argument can go a long way in the effort to sway opinion or make a change.

My only sticking point? This classification of juvenile literature. Why juvenile? It really should be “for all ages” because the vocabulary used in Yes You Can! is not consistent. There is talk of “family” and “classmates” in one chapter and “colleagues” in another. I don’t know any child who would refer to his or her peer as a colleague.


Broken Beautiful

I was invited to a Girls’ Night In last Friday. It sounded amazing. Pedicures, manicures, massage, pampering, girly time. Despite the temptation of all those pedicures and manicures I concentrated on another cure. By 5:30pm I was hitting the streets training for Just ‘Cause. I don’t think I can call walking “training” without a little smile on my face, but after five miles my hips told me differently. They gently reminded me I may not be able to finish twenty let alone times three. Doesn’t matter. I’m here for the cure. I’m broken but I’m still beautiful.

The Sunday sunshine saw me out again. This time I had kisa drop me off at the public library. I’d walk home from there. 5.5 miles if I did it right. I’m noticing my new neighborhood. My new town is beautiful but in a very broken way. Bottles dropped by alcoholics who have had more than their share. Gamblers casting off their loser scratch cards by the hundreds. Flattened things. Unrecognizable things. Dirty things. Things that make my eyes slide away. My favorite moment: a young cat peers out from under a sodden, mangled box with worry in his eyes. I smile with conspiracy. Have no fear. I won’t give you away. Stay stone still and no one will take you away to anywhere. We will walk on by. Promise.

I have decided there are more important things than worrying about what everyone else is doing. I watch people become sulky and sullen when they don’t get what they want and I’ve decided it’s none of their business anyway. Instead, I will pour my energy into something more worthwhile. Petty you is not pretty to me. Everyone will be in for a shock. Maybe I’ll get that pedicure after all. In pink. Then I can say I am living it right. Broken, but beyond beautiful.


Cancer Come Get Me

Carver, Raymond. “What the Doctor Said.” All of Us, New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 2000.

“What the Doctor Said” is about a patient receiving word from his (?) doctor that he has cancer, a cancer so lethal the doctor “stopped counting” the tumors on one lung. You can’t pray but it won’t make a difference. It’s heart breaking and stark. The message is beyond clear. You. Are. Going. To. Die. No bones about it. No hope. No cure. No way out. Imagine that. You are D-E-A-D.

This poem is perfect timing for me. I have mentioned before I have signed up for a cancer walk. 60 miles in three days. The attitude is yeah-yeah another charity. I’ve even gotten an eye roll. I hear the words: So what? Big freakin’ deal. I shouldn’t take it personally, but it still amazes me. No one has asked how they can help. No one has asked ‘how can we donate to the cause?’ They can’t wrap their brains around the fact that this walk could save a life. This walk, this dollar donated might make a difference. It’s amazing. It’s as if the world has become cynical enough to say “you won’t make a difference so I won’t throw my money away.”

What happens when you get a life threatening illness? What happens when you are told you will die? How does it make you feel to have someone say it won’t help you? The attitude is “so why don’t you go ahead and die? It will be painful but just die because I can’t make a difference. I won’t make a difference.”

Drives me nuts.


For a Reason

It’s like a mantra. Things happen for a reason. Things happen for a reason. Things happen for a reason. I know this to be true. We didn’t succeed with the first few houses because they were not ours to have. Something bigger and better lay at the end of Ivy. The timing was all wrong in November. February couldn’t be more perfect. Things happen for a reason.

When my friend decided not to walk the twenty miles for Project Bread. I was not surprised, yet disappointed all the same. It took me a day to think things through. Would I walk without? Would I want to? It took me a week to bail myself out. Things happen for a reason. In reality, walking for hunger is a good cause for someone else. I am wedded to the crusade against cancer and domestic abuse. Been there, done that. Keep doing this. I decided to walk away from the Project Bread walk and find my Just Cause. 60 miles in three days. For breast cancer. This I can do. This I don’t mind doing on my own. I walk for Nor. I walk for me. This is the walk I am meant to walk.

When my friend of 35 years had a heart attack I had mixed emotions. A long history of ups and downs, goods and bads clouded my real emotion – fear. You don’t want people your own age to die. It’s not your time so it shouldn’t be theirs. Butbutbut, things happen for a reason. For the past three months I have wallowed in self indulgences. Since Thanksgiving I have been giving into temptations of every persuasion. Fat and lazy, I have become. When someone told me I looked beautiful I knew it was a lie. A sweet lie, but a lie none the less. I’m heavy. My heart failing friend woke selfish me, myself & moi up. Things happen for a reason. As soon as this house thing happens I am running back to healthy. I swear.

When a good, good friend brought up a painful memory it was hard to face it. Hard to take ownership of it and say yes, I really did do that. It’s unimaginable now, but yes, I really, really did that. Blame game. Pointing you out for no reason other than to strike out. Things happen for a reason. I’m glad you brought up the past and that awful time. I’m still struggling with what happened and more importantly, why butbutbut I’m done burying that past. I can dig it up and say I take responsibility for being so awful to you. I take all the blame for the blame game. It wasn’t you. Never was you. Sorry I said it was you. I’m seeing things better now that I’m so removed.


Just ‘Cause

I think I found my next charity event. In memory of Noreen.


January Was…

January started off and ended with a head cold (damn you, kisa), a really nice dinner party, a re-commitment to the houses HOUSE (glutton for punishment that I am), a re-commitment to charities with a big one – training for a 20 mile walk for Project Bread, a huge re-commitment to friendships and huge changes at the library. For books it was:

  • Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather in honor of New Mexico becoming a state in January.
  • Red Death by Walter Mosely in honor of Walter’s birthday being in January
  • Biggest Elvis by P.F. Kluge in honor of both Elvis and P.F. celebrating their birthdays in January.
  • Devices and Desires by P.D. James ~ in honor of mystery month.
  • The Eleven Million Mile High Dancer by Carol Hill
  • Edith Wharton: a Biography by R.W.B. Lewis ~ in honor of Edith’s birthday on January 24th.
  • The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman ~ in honor of Barbara’s birthday.

For fun:

  • The Letters by Luanne Rice and Joseph Monninger ~ a story that partially takes place on Monhegan. How could I resist? This is the blog that was plagarized by some dumb-azz.
  • 30 pages of Nutritional Wisdom ~ a Christmas gift from my sister.

So I didn’t get a LibraryThing Early Review book in January. That’s not a big deal. I have certainly gotten my fair share over the course of the program so I’m not complaining. I do have to admit, I feel a little guilty. For the first time ever, I am really late publishing the review for the last ER book. Maybe that had something to do with it…who knows?

ps~ I did get one for February, or so I am told! :)


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