Silence

Today is April 1st.  In many places this is known as April Fools Day, but not in my house.  I have an absolute hatred of pranks as 99% of them are mean spirited at best and absolutely cruel at worst (if not criminal) and designed to have amusement with someone else’s pain.  Even the things that are considered harmless involve laughing at someone and then forcing them to clean up the mess of what you did.  Luckily for me, my husband was born on April 1st.  He spent years hearing the ever so witty joke, ‘Oh, so you ARE the April Fool,’ and agrees with me that this day sucks (except as his birthday.)

This year, in addition to celebrating his birthday, I am celebrating another day.  April 1st marks the first day of the first session of Camp NaNoWriMo.  (Don’t forget to sign up!)  November was exhausting for me, but it was also effective, which naturally means I can’t wait to start again.  I have my story picked out, my outline done, my opening line. In fact, as soon as I am done writing this, I’m onto my next novel!

I thought that I should take a moment this morning and explain why I might not be writing as much this month.  You know, since I am pushing hard to write elsewhere.  Then I realized, I haven’t been writing much anyway, so you might not even notice.

When I first started this blog, I wrote much more frequently.  I actually had a schedule for myself, telling myself when I was going to write about what, and I often pre-wrote and scheduled my posts.  What it really came down to was an excess of ideas.  There were so many things I wanted to say, I felt like I needed to say them all, right away.  Sometimes I would have a random thought and start writing with it, other times it was a weird observation.  None of the things I wrote about at the beginning seemed like they were a big deal until I started writing.

I think with my fingers.  It’s something I’ve noticed about myself.  Something might be just a thought for a long time, and then when I sit in front of my keyboard and start writing a lot more can come out of it.  Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad, but either way, I don’t know until my fingers do their little dance.  Many of these random thoughts I had felt like they were something that might just be funny, and then I would start typing and everything would change.

Go ahead.  Go back to a year or so ago and read some of my earlier posts.  Somehow, no matter what I started with, typing it out seemed to give me some bigger or deeper meaning into who I am.  It wasn’t what I set out to do, but there it is.  Good for me, right?  Sigh.

It’s not like I don’t like learning more about myself, or realizing why I do the things I do.  It’s nice to occasionally realize that I was not just insane, some of these thoughts made sense, in some world, somewhere.  But the constant making something small into something huge felt incredibly pretentious.  I mean really, who wants to spend all of their time listening to someone drone on narcissistically about how the way they eat breakfast in the morning actually points to the greater issue of how to feed the world?  (Don’t bother looking, that isn’t one of the early posts.)  I didn’t want to be that person even more than I didn’t want to read about that person.

So, I started writing less.  If I wrote less, and concentrated, fewer of my posts would end on a pretentious note.  I started trying not to ‘wrap up’ my posts, leaving out anything that could be misconstrued as a larger purpose or thought.  Basically, I was writing worse, and feeling like less of myself was really here.

This was where I started to hit my biggest fear.  Was I writing pretentious posts because I am in fact a pretentious person?  First of all, to be pretentious is to, in essence, pretend.  A person who is pretentious is one who pretends to have knowledge or status when they really do not.  You pretend that everything you have is greater and better than it really is.  At least this is the technical definition.  Generally speaking, a person is considered pretentious when those around them feel like less, rather then when a person acts like they are more.  So, yes, sometimes my posts were pretentious, not because I was faking finding insight into who I am, but because I was attributing this knowledge of myself to the tiny moments which were not really that significant.

I stopped writing as many posts that could accidentally lead me to something bigger because I didn’t want to be that person.  Then I realized, that maybe I am that person.  Maybe I am just someone who will find deeper meaning in little things.  I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

So, yeah.  Writing for this blog has changed the way I write.  I don’t want to be the person who is the person who I am, but the more I get to know the person who I am the more I see the person I don’t think I am.  Is this a midlife crisis, or a middle school flashback now?  Either way, it is very confusing.

Now is when I would normally try to give this post a neat wrap up, almost like what you would find in a  sitcom.  Everything has changed, yet nothing has changed at the same time.  I give insight into why things are how they are for me, and realize that maybe I am smarter than I often give myself credit for being.  Then, I read through and realize I kind of like what I realized, but worry about how the post sounds.  Do I sound like a real person, the person who wrote this post while drinking their morning coffee wondering if they can skip washing their hair that day, or do I sound like a person who wears real clothing on a regular basis and leaves the house daily?  If someone who only knew me from this blog met me, would they think I was the person who wrote it, or would they be instantly disappointed?

And see, I am doing it again.  Maybe it isn’t the deeper insights I should worry about, but the fact that I care so much about what people think.  Ugh.

So, yes.  I am going to Camp, and yes I will post occasionally throughout.  Maybe it will have deeper meaning into my life, and maybe I will write a poem describing the way my toe nail clipping fly, because honestly, both posts would be very me.  But today, I have other things to worry about.

The Day of Black Sun

Last week was a large disappointment for me, large enough for me to delay blogging the event.  Throughout most (maybe all?) of Europe there was a solar eclipse visible.  Some countries were able to see a total eclipse, others an almost total.  From where I lived, I was supposed to see a beautiful, half-ish eclipse.

I was super excited.  I love solar eclipses.  Don’t get me wrong, lunar eclipses are cool too, but they don’t have the same visual excitement for me.

I suppose the love comes from when I was a child.  There was a certain fear involved in events like this for me.  I guess I heard a few too many ‘signs of the apocalypse’ stories.  Seeing the sun go out, and knowing the world continued on gave me a feeling of power.  At the time, I was certain I had something to do with it.  I willed the sun to come back.

Of course, now I am well aware it is all science.  Beautiful, complicated, reliable, science.  The truth did nothing to suppress the excitement I feel for an oncoming eclipse.  In fact, this understanding of the universe makes it more exciting for me.  Knowing all of this, I’m sure you can understand my disappointment when I could see none of the eclipse from my house.  The entire was covered in clouds.  I couldn’t even see the sky get darker, as it was already pretty dark that morning.  Yeah, I was not happy.

I wasn’t the only person in my house to be excited for the eclipse.  Little One was also thrilled, as one of her absolutely favorite television shows had a story arc involving an eclipse.  I had to promise to have her (VERY late) birthday blanket done before the eclipse, because she was sure she needed it for her invasion plan.

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For the many of you out there who do not have any idea what this quilt is all about, it is themed around Avatar: The Last Airbender.  The cartoon, not the movie.  I haven’t seen the movie, so I have no opinion on it, however I LOVED the cartoon.  A couple of years ago, as we were moving to Belgium and Little One’s world turned upside down, I introduced her to the series.   It was just something to watch together while we sorted laundry, but for her it seemed to turn into a lifeline.  She let herself get lost in a world where kids were powerful, smart, independent, and yet still silly.  Many horrible things happen in the series, and the sequel series Legend of Korra is much darker, but through it all the characters keep a sense of humor.  It was just what she needed at the time, and until very recently was her go to show at all times.  We watched that show over and over.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that as the show was a security blanket of sorts, the obsession waned a bit when I turned it into an actual blanket.

This isn’t traditionally quilted, and is made from layers of machine appliquéd pieces.  I suppose if I had searched, or plotted excessively, I could have created a similar or identical look with paper piecing.  I chose not to, because the look of the blanket meant too much to Little One to mess around with trial and error, or to end up with squares that were almost right.  I love making quilts, but when it comes down to what my children want, I care more about their vision than doing things within the technical definition of quilting.  It is why I occasionally call my creations blankets, not quilts.  I might not care about the differences, but I know there are those who find these differences deeply important.

So I guess the eclipse wasn’t technically a complete bust.  My daughter walked away with a birthday blanket she is thrilled with, and we enjoyed telling each other stories of how we invaded the fire nation that day.

WRONG!

I have problem, one to which many of you out there might be able to relate. Let me give you a situation here.

You are happy in your life, experiencing a story.  It could be a book, a movie, or a television show.  It doesn’t really matter the medium.  The point, is the creation.  This is a story that was intentionally created, and you are now for better or worse invested in the outcome.  It happens.

Then, your world crashes down as you reach a part that is, simply put, wrong.  Somehow, the writer (or writers) planted the clues, created a structure, and did not see where everything was supposed to end up.  I don’t know how they missed it, when everyone else in the world sees what SHOULD have happened.  All right, maybe I’m the only one who sees what ‘should’ have happened.  The point is, they got it wrong.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

Technically speaking, I know I should not say the writer got it wrong.  It is their story, but when the story is told well you feel like you are a part everything.  You become emotionally connected to every fictional character, and you know what you want to happen.  You know what should happen.  When the writer doesn’t agree it is hard not to feel betrayed.

This is more than a problem for readers (or watchers), this is a problem for writers.  Sometimes you know the outcome you envision will upset people.  Is it all right to keep going, knowing it will break hearts?

The problem seems to come in when the writer is telling a different story than the reader is hearing.

Sometimes I, as the writer, know exactly what the characters are thinking and feeling, but am unable to put all of it into words.  After all, much of human behavior is subtext.  For example, I don’t walk up to those I am close to on a daily basis and tell them, ‘I find you enjoyable to be around, and consider you a friend.  You rank #4 on my list of favorite humans in this moment.”  Honestly, I think most people I know would be frightened if I told them my feelings regarding them on a regular basis.  Instead, friendship is implied through action, and yes, occasionally words as well.  A person knows they are my friend because I make time for them in my life.  I ask them for help when I need it and am happy to return the favor.  For me, if you read a manuscript between myself and the people I consider to be the most important in my life, you might not think we liked each other at all, but insults and sarcasm are our way of showing affection.  So, when I write, I am not going to have my characters state their feeling outright at all times, but I know how they feel.

As a reader, I am able to see this subtext as I read.  Everything the author puts into the story, every word they give to their characters, every action right down to the smallest gesture, I see it all.  Not only do I see it all, but I am able to play it again and again, reading things as often as I want and seeing new things each time.  Every time I read, there are new words to find, new layers of subtext.  Because I spend so much time reading, I start to feel like I know more about the characters than the writers do.  It’s like the friends you have in high school.  Their parents gave them life, and sent them out into the world, but you, their close friend know things about them their parents never will.  I mean really, how many of us told things to our best friends that we would never tell our parents?

So, who is right?  The writer or the reader?  Do I, as the creator have the right to take the story in whatever direction I choose or does the reader have a right to expect a level of satisfaction from their story when they reach the ending?  Who can claim a greater ownership of the story?

I suppose at the end of the day it doesn’t matter.  When I write a story, I consider it mine and when I read a story, I consider it mine too.  Whatever others think of the story belongs to them, and that is their business.  When people get things wrong, I have a right to be angry, and I guess that means you have a right to be angry with me when the time comes.

(Quick disclaimer, I am not talking about the recent finale for Pretty Little Liars that I saw upset people.  I have not seen it, and I would really appreciate if no one told me!)

Camping Out

I hate camping.  I didn’t always, but over the years I have come to truly loath the entire process.

The beginning of the end must have come when I was six years old.  My father was long gone, and my Mom was moving up North where living was less expensive and she could go to school.  Finding a place to live was rough, and for a few months we called the campground by the lake home.  At the time, I thought it was a lot of fun.  We went swimming every night, cooked on a fire, and watched the stars.  It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that the facts fell into place and I realized why we lived there.

Since the reality of camping hadn’t sunk in quite yet, and after years of watching my older brothers go off to boy scout camp for half of the summer, I was thrilled to finally be allowed to go to on a camping trip myself.  Girls camp through my mother’s church was only one week a year, starting when you turn 12, but it was the only option I had so I embraced it.  We swam, learned to tie knots, practiced first aide, read scriptures, and sang stupid camp songs.  For five years I went for my one week, adding in extra time my fourth year to go on a three day hike with the other girls my age.

I suppose it is possible that this is what drew me away from camping; as I left church behind me, perhaps everything church related when with it, including camping.  Fortunately for me, I married a man who also hated camping, and no one has asked me to sleep in a tent since.  Now, I am getting ready to go to camp again.

I’ve been a little quiet about my writing lately.  After NaNoWriMo, I had a bit of a writing hangover.  I had consumed too much writing in a short time period and I was burnt.  Naturally I haven’t given up writing, I just slowed down. A lot.

I needed to recover.  I spent the time editing, and writing new outlines, but not trying to write a new story.    Now, it is time to start again.  April 1st begins the first session of Camp NaNoWriMo, another chance to push my ability to write.  This isn’t only about putting words on paper for me, it is about making a commitment.  I want to tell my stories, and the only way that will happen is if I commit to myself, commit to my dream, and take action.

This is the first time since I was 12 years old that I am excited to go to camp.  I don’t need to sleep outside, or dig a hole to go to the bathroom, but I can tell stories while I look at the stars.  Not a bad way to live.

50 Books- Diary of a Young Girl

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I know I removed the timeline, but I am still working my way through the list.   These posts will continue until all books are completed!

50 Books- Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Where did I get this book and how many pages does it have?

This book was available in my local library.  There were two copies, the one I read with 283 pages, and another ‘comprehensive’ version which was over six hundred pages and included a lot of analysis.  Since I was only looking to read the story, I went for Anne’s version.

Have I read this book before?

Yes.  I want to say it was required reading in junior high, but it could have been high school.

What do I already know?

Anne Frank was a young, Jewish girl, who went into hiding during WW2 with her family in order to avoid being taken to the camps.  During her time in hiding, they had to be completely silent in order to avoid being caught.  In spite of all of their work, her family was eventually found and Anne did not live to see the end of the war.

What do I think now?

I remember studying her during when we discussed the war in school, but there is so much about her life and story I did not remember.  Most of what stuck in my mind was the need to be silent and move as quietly as possible.  There was so much more to her story that I forgotten, including the fact that they went into hiding when papers were sent for her sixteen year old sister to go away.  I forgot that they were hiding for two years in Amsterdam.  I forgot how much time was spent talking about quarrels with the other family who was hiding with them, and how much time was spent on regular teenage angst at the beginning of the diary.  Anne Frank was a normal girl, with an extraordinary talent for storytelling, and a tragic story of her own.  She wrote about her friends, and the crushes she had on boys.  Even when she was terrified, she still had hope and plans for the future.  It is hard to imagine that she wouldn’t have had an amazing life, if only she had been given a chance.

The first time I read this book I was 13, the same age Anne was when they went into hiding.  The idea of being that quiet all day seemed impossible.  Now Big One is 13, and the idea of my daughter hiding, knowing if we were not careful she would not survive is heartbreaking.  I don’t like to think about it, and yet Anne Frank lived it.

Should you read this book before you die?

When I first heard the idea of holocaust denial I was shocked.  As far as I had been taught, the events of WW2, and the horrible actions done to Jewish people were a matter of historic fact.  There is so much documentation, witnesses, and survivors, how could anyone pretend it didn’t happen?  And yet, people do.  There are those who simply refuse to believe.

During my master’s program, I took a class that discussed teaching to different cultures.  There is such a strong push in the US to never overpower a person’s belief system with the insistence of teaching facts.  (Yes, I know that statement was strongly biased, but I think teaching should be focused on truth, not opinion.)  One example of the concessions teachers may have to make that was discussed was the holocaust.  I knew there were deniers, but the class mentioned that many places in Europe do not teach almost anything regarding WW2.  Schools near me might be pretending all of these events never happened.  There were many reasons given, everything from a continued belief that the Jewish people deserved what happened, to what I hope is denial out of shame for the events they helped to happen.

I know I have strong beliefs when it comes to education.  I fully believe that science should be taught, no matter what a person wants to be true.  Science is fact, and opinions should not matter here.  I believe the same of history.  Just because we don’t like what happened doesn’t mean who should ignore the truth.  Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Read Anne Frank’s diary, because this is a time we do not want repeated.

Opportunities

So much thought has been going into my fears for the future lately.  I’ve been afraid of what I should do, and afraid of what I can do, and afraid of what I might mess up.  I was looking for a sign, any sign, that might direct me to the right path.  Unfortunately, a sign was’t what I needed.  What I needed was an opportunity.  That was also what I didn’t have.  So I decided to make an opportunity of my own.

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My passion is creativity, my dream is writing, but technically my field is education.  Most of the time when people think about education they assume you are a teacher.  However, teaching is not all that there is to education. There are many more things I can do with my time while still making use of my current education.  As long as I am willing to make my own opportunities, and do things that might scare me a little.

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There are many good things that come with making a decision for your future.  I feel much calmer, focused, and sure of what is coming.  Of course deciding on the next step does not guarantee I will not fall, but of course, not taking any steps is just standing around.

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There is one downside.  While working to pursue new opportunities, I may have to let some things go.  Choosing what I want to let go is difficult; I am fortunate enough to have the ability to choose most of my activities right now.  When you enjoy so much of what you do, why would you want to give anything up?  Of course, I don’t.  Instead, I decided to release a little pressure without giving anything up.  I’m taking my timeline off of the 50 books challenge.  Without the looming deadline, which I was frightened I was going to miss anyway, I don’t need to rush through my reading.  Instead I can read the books at my leisure, and also have time to both pursue and create new opportunities.  I will still be able to finish the list, but not by July 31.

It’s slightly frightening, making a decision, but also liberating.  So, today I am liberated, and I am going to enjoy the freedom.

A Birthday Blanket

It’s been a little while since I shared something I have sewn, but that does not mean I have not been sewing.  I took a little time away, taking a break from the machine and the planning.  Then, birthdays came around again.

As the girls have birthdays so close close to Christmas (in the beginning of January and February) it can feel like present overload.  All the clothes, books, and toys from Christmas are still all over their floors when more start pouring in.  A homemade gift from home helps to control some of this at least a little.  (Even if they are a little late this year.)

Both girls are very opinionated about what they want their blankets to look like.  They have a theme in mind, and make sure to let me know what needs to be included in order to keep the important things from being forgotten.  This year Big One wanted her theme to be flags.

Big One has an interest in other countries, and more specifically the flags of these other countries.  I’m not certain from where it comes.  Perhaps it is the traveling we do, giving her the sense of being a ‘world citizen.’  Perhaps it is her obsession with an anime called ‘Hetalia.’  Perhaps it is just her quirk.  The reason didn’t matter too much because it technically has no effect on the result; a list of countries whose flags she wanted on her blanket.

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The individual blocks didn’t take as long as I feared they would.  Once you consider how many of the flags are just large stripes of color, all you need to worry about is getting the correct colors and putting them in the correct order.

There were a few little mistakes, and a few things that needed to be simplified for the sake of my sanity.  (Seriously, look at the flags of Spain and Prussia and tell me you wouldn’t have simplified their pictures.)  I think when you try to ignore the black borders, which obscure some of the black sections on the flags, and don’t look too closely at the UK flag, the mistakes are not that bad.  My biggest fear was sewing a flag in upside down, and needing to take everything apart to fix it.  I may have double checked every flag a few times, just to be one the safe side.

There were a few things Big One was very clear about.  First of course was the list of 18 flags she wanted.  She was understanding about everything, and said she was including some she didn’t think I would be able to do, and it was okay if I couldn’t.  (But I did.  All of them.)  The second issue we had was the placement of flags.  She was very clear that the UK and French flags had to be as far away from each other as possible, and that America and Canada should be close to each other.  Beyond that, she made a few little changes for reasons she did not share with me.  In some ways I think I am better off not knowing all of the reasons.

The most fun from this blanket was actually that I learned a little along the way.  I knew Prussia was not around anymore, but while working on the blanket Big One shared a little of the history of the country with me.  We also found it interesting when we visited Salzburg and saw flags with a very similar bird to the one found on the Prussian flag.  It gave a nice reminder that while we are visiting one place that is, we are kind of visiting other places that were as well.  The most fun fact I learned was about a place I don’t think I will ever be, Sealand.  It is a neat little country, with an interesting history.  There might not be a lot to see there, but I have to admit, I still want to go.

However it went, Big One is now not just waving her flag, she is sleeping underneath them as well.  One happy child, and the effort was all worth it.

50 Books- A Passage to India

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50 Books- A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

Where did I get this book and how many pages?

This book is available on Oyster, which reports it as having 368 print pages.

Have I read this book before?

No.

What do I already know?

I did not know much going into this one.  The beginning of the description mentioned something about racial differences and cultural tensions in England.  As this was originally published in 1924, and the beginning of the 20th century was marked by a desire for independence, it can be assumed there was some tension.  I do not have a large knowledge of the history of the area however, but I have just enough to understand it was not always perfect between the two cultures.

What do I think now?

There were some parts of this book that dragged for me, and others I found fascinating.  While they were beautifully written, I disliked the section that were describing the beauty and mystery of the area.  I think it was difficult to connect with these passages, as I have never been to India.  The places they were describing were, or could have been, real.  I wanted to picture them that way, not the way it was described in a book.

Much more interesting to me were the sections with people.  I like people, and I love their stories.  There was so much going on in each scene, so many undertones that seemed to be at times incredibly obvious and at other times barely noticeable.  The tension between people from different cultures was remarkable.  Tiny comments that sound innocent but are meant to hurt.  It was honestly horrible.  This part was easier to connect with because it reminded me of racial tensions in American history.  There is a group who has power and wants to keep it; they work to keep it through the systematic pushing down of all others who might challenge their power.  Of course, this was more than just racial tensions within this story.  There was a conquering nation, working to impose its will on another.  Additionally, there were divisions between the Indians, divisions not of race, but of culture and religion.

The trial was incredibly fascinating as well.  So much pressure was placed on everyone to do ‘the right thing’ but there was very little that could be agreed upon as ‘right.’  Even when the trial was finished, everyone believed what they wanted to believe, not necessarily what was true.  It was definitive moment for all of those involved, and I was very glad that the aftermath was not ignored.

Should you read this book before you die?

This is an interesting take on the differences between people in the world, not only the racial or religious differences, but also the cultural differences.  It is an interesting read, and definitely one that could help to open minds to the lives and realities of other people.

What am I reading next?

I am doing a little retooling on the schedule, and bringing The Diary of Anne Frank next, followed by Money.

Happy Reading Everyone!

Through the Tunnel

Over the last month I haven’t posted much.  Well, probably more than the last month.  Okay, definitely more than a month.

For the last year and a half I spent much of my time staring ahead, keeping my eyes firm on the light at the end of the tunnel.  I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and constantly worried I would never actually get to the end.  Of course I did, I made it through the tunnel, into the light and I graduated.

Of course, I was initially elated.  I was done, and I was extremely relieved.  I just wanted to be relaxed, and enjoy my moment.  Eventually reality set in and I realized, I was done.

It seems like it should be a good thing, realizing I finished something big.  I know I should be proud, and excited for the next stage of my life.  Instead, as soon as reality set in I was overwhelmed with terror.

What am I doing next next?  What should I do next?  What have I been doing with my life up until now?  Am I where I should be in my life?  Am I going anywhere?

What comes next for me?

So, yeah.  I haven’t been posting much due to a minor existential crisis.

I had thought to share that fact with you, but thinking it was too much.  After all, who am I to whine about my problems?  Of course I am not perfect, and I do not have the level of privilege that some may assume, I have a roof over my head, I am a citizen of a free country, and I have the means and opportunity to not only get an education, but also travel, and occasionally sit at a computer and ramble on about my life, even though I am well aware of the fact that my ramblings do not help anyone in any way.  My problems are nothing compared to the people who are starving, or who live with horrible illnesses.  I know that, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about my own problems.

I try to think about what I should do next, and I begin to feel overwhelmed.  The two most obvious answers, get a job or continue with school, are both slightly out of the question.  I live in a small area with limited work options and no current availabilities, in or out of my career field.  Additionally as much as I would like to continue on with my education, I’m not exactly prepared to embark on the journey towards my doctorate degree.  Which leaves what?  What do I do now?

I came through the tunnel, but I am still have no idea where I am.  Somewhere along the way I lost my focus, and I can’t seem to find it.  Worse than that, I’m not sure what my focus should be.  Should I make my focus my writing?  Should I pour myself into the blog, or spend hours sewing, or get deep into exercise and fitness and run for hours every day?  What do I do?

Sadly, I am not writing this down because I have any answers to share.  I have nothing.  This post is little more than a whine.  The most I hope this will do is allow me to let go of a little of the frustration and move on.

So there is where I have been.  Hopefully it’s not where I will stay for long.

50 Books- Heart of Darkness

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Today almost didn’t have a book post.  As I was reading A Passage to India last night, seeing that I was only 25% through, I had a moment of extreme guilt.  There was no way I was going to finish 75% of the book that night, not while still being a fully functional human being today.  For the first time, I was going to have no book finished when I had a post due.  So far during this challenge, I have managed to always have a book.  I’ve never run out of time, often been very early, but usually at least done the night before and have the post already written.

Suddenly it occurred to me.  I was not planning on writing up A Passage to India today.  Today I was going to write on Heart of Darkness.  I had completely forgotten I had read the book.  This should tell you all you need to know about the impact this book had on me.

50 Books- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Where did I get the book and how many pages?

This book is available on Oyster, with a reported 80 print pages.  Between the books I am reading myself, the books I want to read, and the books my daughters are reading, I am in love with this service.

Have I read this book before?

No.  Never heard of this book before, except the brief reading of the title on the list.

What do I already know?

Nothing.  I picked this book at the time because it was short and I was trying to get a little ahead on my reading to make time for The Lord of the Rings without being late with a post.  The most I learned before reading was from my husband who told me he was pretty sure this book was the basis of the movie Apocalypse Now (according to wikipedia, he is correct).  As I had never seen the movie, that meant nothing to me.

What do I think now?

I don’t think much now.  There was a moment at the beginning of the book where the author is describing four passengers in a boat.  He seemed to go on and on about the people, the ocean, the boat.  It felt to me like he would never shut up, but technically the passage was not very long.  In the end, the description was only to let me know one of them was going to tell the story.  It was a lot of description with very little purpose.  I instantly understood why there is a lot of warning against too much description when you are writing; when the text is not moving the story forward, you make people want to move away.

For me, it didn’t get much better.  There were portions of the book where I felt connected, and I understood what was going on.  Shortly after those points the book would seem to go onto a tangent that made me need to go back, reread, and figure out what was going on again.  At the end of the book, I wasn’t sure I felt like I understood any of it.  I certainly didn’t remember much.

Should you read this book before you die?

I’m beginning to wonder if I should leave this part out.  It seems to come down to two answers; I loved it so you should read it too, or I did not like it, but would love to know what you got out of it.  Either way I am still technically recommending the reading of the book.

Here, quite simply I did not connect to the book.  It could have been the writing style did not match my preferences, or that the story content was not for me.  Whatever the issue, I did not have a moment of enjoyment with this book.  It doesn’t mean I might not like it if I read it again later, or that you won’t love it.  It just means I didn’t see what I was supposed to see.

Perhaps that is the problem I have been having all along.  I’m not sure what I am supposed to see in these books, and therefore what I get out of them is completely up to me.

Come back next week to hear about the next book, A Passage to India.

Happy Reading!