My Book is in a Library!!!

Ever since my mother told me, at age 4, that when you go into a library you can go anywhere in the entire universe, I’ve always gotten butterflies when passing through the doors of a library. For some people, it takes love at first sight or at the very least a trip to Disney World to evoke such a response. Not me. Libraries are awesome.

So imagine the level of my ecstasy when I received a notice from the King County Library System here in Seattle, telling me that yes, they had honored my request to include my book in their catalog. In fact, they’ve bought 4 copies and scattered them in branches across the county.

My mother would be so proud. I’m still in shock and awe. I’m going to have to go to one of the branches and actually SEE my book on the shelf in order to believe it’s true. (If I do, I’ll add a picture below.)

I’m sharing space with Shakespeare and, I dunno, Stephen King, for crying out loud! Imagine that. Someone may be perusing the shelves and stumble across my book and read it. They may never have heard of it or me if it hadn’t been for the library. Now that… That’s just cool.

I hope all of you know that you can request that your local library carry books that they don’t currently have. They may or may not honor your request, but it’s a chance to try to make your library even more diverse. Many libraries even include request forms on their websites.

If you haven’t gotten the hint yet, I’d LOVE for my book to be in your library. Help a sister out, will you? Thanks!

 

Claim your copy of A Bridgetender’s View: Notes on Gratitude today and you’ll be supporting StoryCorps too! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Support Libraries. Support Reading. And Do Me a Solid.

At a time in our history when ignorance seems to be winning, when public education is under threat, and when people are increasingly afraid of fake news but seemingly unwilling to take steps to find reliable sources of information, it is extremely important that we support our public libraries.

Libraries are under constant threat of budget cuts. It seems logical that a city’s fiscal priorities should be its first responders and its infrastructure rather than its libraries. But that overlooks the fact that the more literate a population is, the safer it tends to be. Even something as simple as participating in a summer reading program will increase your likelihood of being on the honor roll in the fall. Libraries also serve as community centers. They are often safe places in islands of chaos.

It is important to let your city councils know how important your library is to you. Show up. Speak out.

Also, get involved with your library. Get to know your librarians. Participate in their programs. Donate books to them. Join organizations that support your library. Help them raise funds. It’s the right thing to do.

It is also important to let your library know what you want in their collection. Think of it as a living, breathing, growing source of media that exists for the citizens of your community. Suggest new titles. Promote local authors. Your librarians will appreciate your insights.

On a personal note, it would mean a great deal to me, dear reader, if you would recommend that your local library obtain a copy of my book, A Bridgetender’s View: Notes on Gratitude in either paperback form or the new Kindle version! Or both! I’d be honored if my book were included in its collection. And the more exposure I get, the more success I’ll have!

If you are a blog reader, you’re a reader, full stop. You know how important libraries are. You know how important literacy is. Take a moment to support your local library!

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I Was a Book-Nosed Girl

To say I had a dysfunctional childhood would be putting it mildly. Purely to save myself, I spent a great deal of time dissociating from my daily reality. In fact, I really can’t recall much from ages 11 through 13.

I can say that I watched Mr. Rogers until an embarrassing age. He was the calm center of my storm, the one voice of reason and compassion. Sadly, his show wasn’t on 24 hours a day, so the rest of my waking life I dove headlong into books.

I carried library books with me wherever I went. I even brought them to school, in spite of the fact that I also had to lug around about 30 pounds of textbooks. Without a book, I felt vulnerable.

You can hide behind a book. You can lose yourself in one. Books don’t judge you. They don’t shout. They’re safe and reliable. They never let you down or put you down. And they can transport you to better worlds.

My favorite books growing up were the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. I must have read each one about 20 times. Recently, in an effort to get in touch with my inner child, I started reading them again.

It’s interesting to revisit the planet of Pern from an adult perspective. I can certainly see why these books would appeal to a troubled child. Pern was an amazing place. Yes, there were bad people there, there were trials and tribulations, but justice always prevailed in the end. The good people pulled together. They took care of each other. Bonds were strong. Work was hard but it was honest, and you could take pride in your skills and talents.

McCaffrey also created her own vocabulary, which delighted me. There was a coffee-like substance which was called klah. Klaaaaaaaaah… That’s perfect. What would be better to wake you up on a cold morning? And crablike creatures were called spiderclaws. Of course.

And when a dragon or a fire lizard loved you, you were loved and protected for life. There was no question. You could count on it.

On the back of a dragon, you could fly away from all your troubles. Pern probably saved my sanity. I bet the Harry Potter books do the same thing for kids today. There’s something to be said for getting lost in a book.

Dragon

Virtual Influence

I just got a flu shot. I usually wait until I see it marked on my calendar on October 1, but one of my friends in the virtual world of Second Life mentioned they were already available. No time like the present.

As I got into my car and drove to the pharmacy and then got the shot and came home, it occurred to me that my actions were being influenced by someone in Second Life whom I most likely will never meet face to face. It is almost as if someone in the cyber world were sitting at a keyboard somewhere, directing my movements. Highly disconcerting. Maybe I’m the avatar and my stunningly attractive cartoon character is the real thing. I could live with that.

Then I began thinking about all the other ways that Second Life, Facebook, and even comments from this blog have influenced me over the years.

  • I have met four of my virtual friends face to face, and those were all amazingly gratifying experiences.
  • I often get book recommendations from friends on-line, and that has given me hours of reading pleasure.
  • Some of my favorite “go to” people for advice are people that I’ve never, or very rarely, been in the same room with.
  • Second Life gave me the courage to be a fractal artist, and now I sell my work on Zazzle, in the form of prints, mugs, cards, and business cards, among other things.
  • The feedback from people who have read my blog has caused my confidence to soar.
  • Unfortunately a hostile comment from a troll can also put me in a foul mood.
  • I would have felt a great deal more isolated when I moved across the country to a city where I didn’t know a soul if it weren’t for my on-line friends.
  • Some of the ridiculous stuff I read on Facebook has caused me to strengthen my moral, spiritual, and political convictions.

My on-line contacts have made me laugh and cry and love and trust and get angry and learn… in other words, to live fully. And for that I will be forever grateful.

The virtual me.
The virtual me.

What Are You Leaving Behind?

Somewhere in America, God only knows where, there are about 50 boxes of books that belong to me. They were left to me in my sister’s will. I’m sure she meant well. She knew how I love to read. But the last thing I need is her hoard of books. If anything, as much as possible I’m trying to get rid of the books I already have. And how did she expect me to get these books across the country? Uhaul? Books weigh a ton.

Please understand that these are not leather bound, signed first editions. No. They’re yellowing, dog-eared and much loved paperback versions of best sellers. I doubt a used book store would give me more than 50 bucks for the lot.

After the reading of her will, my brother-in-law made absolutely no effort to comply with her wishes, and on one level that annoyed me, but on another it was a huge relief. I didn’t want to deal with those books, and I’m sure he didn’t, either. Later he remarried and sold the house. There’s talk of a storage facility somewhere, but as far as I’m concerned, the less said the better.

The thing that people, and hoarders in particular, don’t seem to understand is that after they’re gone, no one is going to view their possessions as being one tenth as valuable as they do. No one wants to have to deal with your crap.

Your adult children might appreciate one or two examples of the refrigerator art they made for you in kindergarten, but they’re certainly not going to want a shoebox full. Nor will they want every Christmas card you’ve ever received in the past 60 years, or your collection of dolls from around the world.

When you pass away, it’s going to be you that they want back. It’s cruel to add to their grief by making them sift through piles of magazines, rusted tools, tangled fishing line, and your beloved beer can collection.

If you truly do think you have things that are worth something, it is much kinder to sort and sell them now and give your family the money rather than make them bicker over who is going to have to post each individual item on e-bay later.

Have an honest discussion with your heirs. It’s very likely that what you see as a legacy of treasured memories will be viewed by them as a monumental hassle and an enormous burden. Don’t make one of their last memories of you become a source of irritation.

boxes of book

[Image credit: heartsandmindsbooks.com]

Wisdom Compiled

For many years now, decades, actually, I’ve been keeping a quote book. I’ve always been an avid reader, and now and then I’d come across something very wise or funny or informative in a book and I’d swear to myself that I’d remember it, but it was usually out of my head by the next day. So I got the idea to start writing these things down. Every once in a while I enjoy reading my quote book and seeing the many things that resonated with me at different times in my life. I think this book now reveals a great deal about the person I have become. I have suggested in my will that my loved ones get together and read things from this book after I’m gone. Here are some of my favorites (with apologies in advance that the book titles aren’t underlined, because WordPress mysteriously doesn’t allow that):

“There are times when we must be willing to be misunderstood”

Eugenia Price, Don Juan McQueen

“I’m the princess and the entire world is the pea.”

Bo Huston, I am Waiting

“He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”

Nietzsche

“I think maybe religion does not make people kind, I think maybe it can give naturally kind people a reason to be kind.”

Jack Cady, Inagehi

“Soaking in her tub at the hotel, Barbara decided that no civilization that provides an unlimited supply of hot water can be all bad.”

Howard Fast, The Establishment

“Grin broadly at the water cooler, and go home to where you live.”

Roger Rosenblatt

“Never worry in advance, there’s plenty of time for that once your ass is in a sling.”

Cathy Cash-Spellman, The Playground of the Gods

“You don’t have to stay raped…”

Alice Walker, By the Light of My Father’s Smile

“Don’t mistake the edge of a rut for the horizon.”

James Patterson, Cat and Mouse

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(Image credit: clker.com)

Contemplating Trees

Today is Arbor Day. I bet a distressingly small number of people are even aware of that. It is a day to plant trees and appreciate those trees that already exist. Today I’m thinking about the forest and our relationship to it.

Many rears ago, I used to vacation in Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. I’d rent a cabin for two weeks, take my dogs and a whole bunch of books and groceries, and just go. I wouldn’t see another human being the entire time. I’d have no telephone and no television, and this was before the internet, so being on line wasn’t even a concern. I’d sit on the porch and read. I’d take a nap. I’d cook something and eat. But mostly what I’d do is watch the wind in the trees. Pure heaven.

My coworkers thought I was crazy. “Weren’t you scared?” they would say. But to be honest I wasn’t the least bit nervous. Not even for a second. Not even at night. It’s humans that are scary, if you ask me. No tree has ever done me harm. And there were no humans for miles. If a serial killer were persistent enough to find me, let alone kill me, then he would deserve to succeed after all that work. No, I am much more fearful in the big city than I am in the deep forest.

But forests show up in our myths and scary movies for a reason. When you are surrounded by pure nature, as far as the eye can see, you sense life. It’s easy to feel paranoid. Normally we place walls between ourselves and this type of life, so when you make the effort to surround yourself by a thick blanket of it, just you and nature, it can be overpowering.

I don’t look at forests that way. I don’t view them as malevolent. I feel the celebration of life. I see the beauty of creation. I feel embraced and at peace. I feel like I’ve come home.

forest

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost

As an extra treat, I give you this link. It’s a radio interview with David George Haskell, a biologist who spent a year studying just one square meter of old growth forest in Tennessee. He’d go there every single day and just observe. And he has some profound things to say about what he learned. “We find wonder in the world by giving the world our attention, not by running around the world to find the most wonderful place, but to look at our homes, look at the places where we are in a new light, and that light is the light of our focus and concentration. And by doing that, whether it’s in a square meter of forest or a particular trail through an urban neighborhood, or a tree in a park, as we focus in, we see more and more, and the riches unfold in front of us.” It’s a fascinating interview. Check it out.

Happy Arbor Day. Hug a tree, people!

Reality Based Children’s Books

The other day I watched a brief video of a Children’s book that was narrated by Samuel L Jackson. It’s called “Go the F**k to Sleep”. I don’t know what made me laugh harder: the actual book, which was surely written more for the entertainment of adults, or the fact that we have reached a point in history where we’re willing to laugh at ourselves enough to actually publish a book of this type.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=y-vDYOpkoWE

This got me thinking of other children’s books that are simply crying out to be written. Here’s a few that I’ve come up with, but feel free to suggest your own in the comments section below.

  • Things Often DON’T End Happily Ever After. Sorry.
  • Glass Slippers Would Cause Fungal Infections on Your Feet
  • There’s a Good Chance You Won’t Become Royalty
  • Not Everyone is Beautiful and That’s Okay.
  • If You See Things Turning into Pumpkins, You Might Need Help
  • If You Go Around Kissing Sleeping Women, You May Appear Desperate or Do Time
  • The Plural of Dwarf is Dwarves
  • It’s Usually Not a Good Idea to Hang Out with Undomesticated Animals
  • The Yellow Brick Road Has Pot Holes
  • If Someone Gives You Magic Beans, Make Sure They’re Not from Monsanto
  • Jackass: The Eighth Dwarf
  • The Big Bad Wolf was Just Misunderstood
  • Humpty Dumpty Died and it Wasn’t Pretty
  • Goldilocks was a Burglar
  • Never Throw Wild Parties with Creatures 10 Times Your Size
  • If Someone is Creepy, Don’t Get in his Boat, Even if he Owns a Chocolate Factory
  • Most Problems aren’t Solved in 25 Pages
  • Not all Evil People are Visibly Ugly

What’s Your Motivation?

The other day I watched an old Twilight Zone episode that never fails to make me cry. It’s called “Time Enough at Last” and (spoiler alert!) It’s about a Walter Mitty type guy who works at a bank, but his true love is reading. Every day at lunch hour he sneaks down into the vault and reads. At home his shrew of a wife berates him for reading. One day, he’s on his lunch break in the vault, and the world is completely destroyed by an H bomb. He of course, survives as he’s in the vault. He crawls out, surveys the wreckage, discovers he’s all alone, despairs, for a while, then finds a library and realizes that he’ll be able to cope after all, because he’ll be able to read. He settles in, as if for a long winter’s nap, and at that moment his coke bottle glasses fall off his face and shatter. And that’s when he realizes he’ll never be able to read again. That’s when I cry.

Time-Enough-At-Last-the-twilight-zone-1065508_275_203

I used to think I was crying because I love to read, too, and can’t imagine a life without books. While that still holds true, I now know that the reason for my tears is something deeper. We all have a reason for being. For him, it was reading. For you it might be discovering a new type of orchid or making the perfect wedding cake. It’s different for all of us, and no reason is superior to any other. But I believe that until you know what your reason for being is, you can’t truly live a full life. Without your purpose, you have no motivation.

My reason for being is travel. It has to do with this family trait called “Enthusiosity” that I’ve blogged about previously. I was born to find out what’s beyond the next horizon. I want to know how people in different cultures live their daily lives. When I travel, I am truly alive. I’ve been to 18 countries so far, and have explored a great deal of my own. Circumstances have made it impossible for me to travel in the past 4 years, and that’s my own private version of hell on earth. I can only hope things will improve in the future. But at least I know my purpose. That’s a starting point.

You have to have a starting point to run the race of life. Ready. Set. Go!