Wonderful question for all of us readers. What makes a book terrible – What’s your take?

101 Books

“It’s Not You. It’s Me.”

Have you ever felt that way about a book?

You know, the old clichéd way that the girl always breaks up with the boy, like George got the news broken to him in that one episode of Seinfeld. A short monologue is accompanied by a kiss on the cheek, and off she goes into the sunset.

When it comes to reading, though, have you ever felt like that? You appreciate the book. You think you understand why other people like it. But it’s just not for you.

If so, where do you draw the line? How can you tell if something is genuinely a piece of crap, and the people who like it must be border-line illiterate, or whether it’s just not your proverbial cup of tea?

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the dogs don’t understand

I work to weave
this bit of space
into something
more transcendent,
more ethereal.
The folded clothes
stacked on the chair,
the last pair of
shoes I wore
discarded
near the bed.
A coat hanging
on the doorknob —
the entry door open
(never blocked)
because the dogs
don’t understand —
my desk, my time,
these stories crafted
from nothingness – so
they still stop by to visit
every once in awhile,
sitting quietly,
in hope of a bone.

~January 2012

 

 

Beneath the Tides of Sleep and Time

Beneath the tides of sleep and time
Strange fish are moving!    

Thomas Wolfe

freya-wave-laurie-behnen

I’ve been back in the region of my childhood for three years. There were a few times, those first years, when I came back for several months at a time  before leaving again. But, I’ve never considered that “being” here. My reality is that I left at the age of seventeen and didn’t return for twenty-seven years. Now, in my early forties, I’ve come back to a town filled with ghost-like memories of a place and its silent-voiced people that no longer exist.

The clouds still look the same overhead, floating across cow-filled pastures, an opaque-white fluff against the blue-purple outline of mountains. The same sounds of whippoorwills and crickets sing through the nights.

I stand, on my back porch, as the last light of day slips away and the crickets hum. In this growing dark moment I can pretend that the twenty-seven years hasn’t passed – I am once again here in my youth listening to the singing of the whippoorwills as they welcome the deep night.

Most of the old home places are torn down – the grass, trees, and new growth disguising the old sites. Driving by them makes memory appear a trick of false pictures. Is that really the yard we once played in and the tree I loved to climb? Erasure, the way nature reclaims its own, in spite of previous existence and the blood of memory soaking that ground.

The vast-rambling plants, grasses, and trees disguise the greater void of all who are missing. This is the saddest part. Both sets of grandparents, aunts and uncles, and all the older church members are long dead and buried. Laying flowers across bronze or beneath the shadow of granite is all I can give them. Their personalities and laughter absent from the impersonal carvings. Their formal names and date to date is all there is.

I chose this path. Each step forward, toward the new, requiring a leaving behind and stepping further away from what lived here. I remember me as a thirsting, starving soul – I was silently dying. It took the leaving to make me grow, for me to understand my true and deepest identity, for me to become the intended individual that I now am. I know this as truth within my most sacred self. I chose this path – I am my own expertly crafted story.

* / * / *

The book of me isn’t finished, but the chapter I’ve lived in this past three years is telling itself into ending. I feel it. I’m familiar with these closures that seem to come unbidden, but later prove necessary and instrumental for the next phase of my life.

Coming home has been about reconciliation with myself more than anything else. I wouldn’t have expected that, but it is often at the end of a thing that you are able to see it most clearly. My life here, as a child and teenager, provided little community or friendship. I lived in an odd isolation that it would take me years to understand.

My grandparents, favorite aunts and uncles, and the like provided a foundational concept of love; but it was many long years before I could see that at work in my becoming. The deep sense of isolation, my inability to find fulfilling relationships, or a place where I could truly “fit in” as they say would change after my leaving.

In the twenty-seven years away – time divided between Atlanta, Georgia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – I would find my “fitting in’” and my individual identity, expand and examine my belief systems, and develop a workable life philosophy.  It’s taken this time of coming home for me to actually see clearly who I’ve become. That I am happy with the overall picture is a surprise and a gift. Other than that, my past in this specific place holds less of value to me than I hoped it would. The past is a combination of shredded mirage-memory images.  It is the future that calls and whispers to me as a vivid-flowing movement. And, it is endings that open the doors through which the future comes.

* / * / *

My children and grandchildren are here – that is my reason for staying.  My son and daughter, both in their mid-to-late twenties, are adults living their own lives. We have grown together the past few years, each one of us helping the other or celebrating through alternate periods of trial and joy. I am proud of them and content in the knowledge that they are happy, healthy, and blessed with wonderful spouses and children.

I love my children dearly, but it is the love and desire for my grandchildren that holds me rooted in this place of thick-red clay. I enjoy being a grandma more than I could have ever imagined.  The four “babies” range from 3 to 7 years old and are a constant  treasure and blessing to me – each of them special and unique individuals that I adore.

* / * / *

I spent Saturday afternoon at work with a couple from Argentina (as they purchased a car from me). It was a wonderful visit for me and I deeply enjoyed our conversation. Lately, I drift in to thoughts of traveling overseas, even becoming an expat like Hemingway and so many others. There is something that calls me to South America and Europe – part of the artist that is enamored of these places where such long history and artistic depth lives. Just “to walk the streets” as they say . . .

I met a lovely lady from Poland last year (again, in the sales process of my real-world job) and we became immediate pals. She came to work for me for a while and we remain friends after her leaving. We talk often of a trip to Europe this coming year – she’ll take me around Poland, Germany, and maybe even Greece. I love this thought, love to contemplate this trip with a wonderful friend (who will make sure I don’t get lost since I speak not one word of German, Greek, etc.).

I have always wanted to travel overseas to these places – a longing I have often dusted off and examined, but began to take less seriously as the years passed. Thanks to my wonderful friend, Agnes, this desire is rekindled. I feel the shift in movement – in path – like a wave rushing the sand between my toes brushing the tops of my feet. Travel . . . again.

* / * / *

I’ve jumped on planes, traveled by trucks, hopped in my car and started driving – traveling throughout the United States several times. These “other places” seem to thrall my Gypsy blood – it rests awhile and then roars with rushing to movement, to travel, to seeking. Each of these trips and times in other parts of the US (often working in other regions for long periods of time) created deep changes in understanding and perspective for me. I was not the same person coming home as I was in the leaving. (I deeply believe every young person should travel for a time before settling down if at all possible!)

* / * / *

The past four months at work (day job again) have been horrific in many ways. I’ve experienced things I could in no way anticipate or expect – things that put me in a position to make some very difficult decisions. I made a decision that I felt was the “right one,” as well as the only one I being me could make following some very dark days of hurt, confusion, and serious in-depth thought. The coming weeks will bring the results of that choice and I continue to pray for wisdom moving forward and a final resolution that will bring peace.

I am coming to a cross-roads of sorts in my business life. Maybe it’s just that mid-life crises everyone jokes about! Either way, I’m giving serious thought to leaving the automotive industry – my 70-hour-weeks life’s blood for the past 7 years. I am transitioning mentally (and maybe physically). It will be interesting to see how it all turns out down where those “strange fish are moving.” I’ll keep you posted!

 

~South Carolina, January 2012

 

Artwork: Freya Wave by Laurie Behnen. To see more artwork by this artist, please visit her site at Fine Art America. Please help support this wonderful artist by visiting FAM and maybe even buying a print or notecards!

 

SOPA & PIPA DROPPED BY CONGRESS

Email of January 20, 2012 from FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE:

Hi everyone!

A big hurrah to you!!!!! We’ve won for now — SOPA and PIPA were dropped by Congress today — the votes we’ve been scrambling to mobilize against have been cancelled.

The largest online protest in history has fundamentally changed the game.  You were heard. 

On January 18th, 13 million of us took the time to tell Congress to protect free speech rights on the internet. Hundreds of millions, maybe a billion, people all around the world saw what we did on Wednesday.  See the amazing numbers here and tell everyone what you did.

This was unprecedented. Your activism may have changed the way people fight for the public interest and basic rights forever.

The MPAA (the lobby for big movie studios which created these terrible bills) was shocked and seemingly humbled.  “‘This was a whole new different game all of a sudden,’ MPAA Chairman and former Senator Chris Dodd told the New York Times. ‘[PIPA and SOPA were] considered by many to be a slam dunk.’”

“’This is altogether a new effect,’ Mr. Dodd said, comparing the online movement to the Arab Spring. He could not remember seeing ‘an effort that was moving with this degree of support change this dramatically’ in the last four decades, he added.”

Tweet with us, shout on the internet with us, let’s celebrate: Round of applause to the 13 million people who stood up  – #PIPA and #SOPA are tabled 4 now. #13millionapplause

Share on Twitter Share on FB

We’re indebted to everyone who helped in the beginning of this movement — you, and all the sites that went out on a limb to protest in November — Boing Boing and Mozilla Foundation (and thank you Tumblr, 4chan)! And the grassroots groups — Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress, CDT, and many more.

#SOPA and #PIPA will likely return in some form.  But when they do, we’ll be ready.  Can you make a donation to Fight for the Future, to help us keep this fire going? 

Donate

We changed the game this fall, and we’re not gonna stop.  $8, $20, every little bit helps. 

13 million strong,

Tiffiniy, Holmes, Joshua, Phil, CJ, Donny, Douglas, Nicholas, Dean, David S. and Moore… Fight for the Future!

P.S.  China’s internet censorship system reminds us why the fight for democratic principles is so important:

In the New Yorker:  “Fittingly, perhaps, the discussion has unfolded on Weibo, the Twitter-like micro-blogging site that has a team of censors on staff to trim posts with sensitive political content. That is the arrangement that opponents of the bill have suggested would be required of American sites if they are compelled to police their users’ content for copyright violations. On Weibo, joking about SOPA’s similarities to Chinese censorship was sensitive enough that some posts on the subject were almost certainly deleted (though it can be hard to know).

After Chinese Web users got over the strangeness of hearing Americans debate the merits of screening the Web for objectionable content, they marvelled at the American response. Commentator Liu Qingyan wrote:

‘We should learn something from the way these American Internet companies protested against SOPA and PIPA. A free and democratic society depends on every one of us caring about politics and fighting for our rights. We will not achieve it by avoiding talk about politics.’”

#######
(press release is here: https://fightfortheftr.wordpress.com/press-releases/)

 

 

 


Death As House Guest

If I met you on the road
Say, at Halloween or Christmas, I
like to think I would know you —
a bright “Ah-hA” moment inside my mind.

But, this is doubtful
and troublesome because
I’m not sure I’d recognize
your presence on that day any more
than I do your absence on this day.

I like to think there is
a quieter quiet; a more solemn
hush to the air when you arrive —


like some new guest who walks
into the house
with his suitcase
to spend the holidays and
he is distinctly there
roaring in his own noises, singular in smell,
his dress-shoes clopping – clikee-clop, clikee-
clop-clop down the hall,
up the steps to stand
on the landing, studiously
trying to decide
which bedroom to enter.

~January 2012

Peach

Giovanni Ambrogio Figino - Metal Plate with Peaches and Vine Leaves

Giovanni Ambrogio Figino - Metal Plate with Peaches and Vine Leaves Courtesy of Wikipedia


A peach shirt,
not really your color,
hung and waiting
on cold metal wire.

I called, to be sure
you wouldn’t mind
the borrowing
before I slipped
and slithered my body
into the color. Peach
warm, Peach soft weave
covering my skin.

I remembered the color,
its connotation
with Georgia – the South,
remembered
my so far-away home
where peach meant
sweet-juice-filled fruit,
ripe for picking.

A few hours later,
you peel the peach shirt
away from my limbs,
biting into the warm-deep flesh
of Southern hot-brown skin.

~ January 2012


Every Turning of the World: 2012

Every turning of the world / knows some who are disinherited, to whom / neither the past nor the future belongs. / Even what is about to happen is still remote to them. / ….  ~from The Seventh Duino Elegy, by Rainer M. Rilke

January comes into the Carolinas mild and warm, 65 degrees and sunny the first days, now turning to misting rain and cooler drafts of air. It is 2012 – an election year in an America that is still suffering through a recession and just ending a 10 year war overseas. The belief and fear that “our current world will end” on December 21, 2012 is prominent in many minds. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_phenomenon). The worldwide banking crises and financial upheaval still murmurs and twists – no one can promise that 2012 will be a better year – a fearful world holds its breath and waits as the year 2012 drifts into being and claims its moment in history.

We all want a better year than the one we fear is coming. Catastrophe is never an easy thing to bear. IF we believe life on this planet ends in the coming December does it change who we are? How we live? What daily life becomes? Does the fear of ending make existence sweeter and more dear to us? Or, is the human race more likely to become ruthless, desperate, dangerous? Will we allow ourselves to even consider the possibility of mass ending, humans dying in the streets like the dinosaurs, fossils of a past time?

I, for one, believe that human beings have an infinite tendency to live in a created place of selective vision. We are a unique being able to live in denial when facing the most simple facts contrary to all indicators of an opposite truth. We paint pictures in our minds of the world we live in, who we are, and what really matters.  Thus, we have an innate ability to minimize and move on.

It is this creative ability that produces a “forward motion” mindset that allows us to keep moving and prevents us from “freezing in the headlights” like a deer or possum. Our creativity, hope, and faith will continue to push us forward, step after step, no matter what the new year brings. But, with all that said, consider the question: If this were the last year of your life – what would you do with it?

~*~*~

 

Art Prints

Artwork By and copyrighted 2012, Rachel Christine Nowicki. Visit her page at www.Fine Art America.com for more information.