Sunday, September 11, 2011

Can You Believe It

I AM SHOCKED at a recent finding at my front door.  Do you remember a past post discussing the evil world of book theft and the untrustworthy postal system?  Well it appears that my posting while still pertinent to many around the globe does not actually pertain to me.  Take a gander below:

This is what was at my door.  And for all those not able to see the fine detail, allow me to share with you my own up close inspection.  Those dark spots at the top under the packing tape are dead bugs.  Yes DEAD BUGS TRAPPED IN TAPE.  The whole package is covered in dirt and the bottom right corner has seemingly buckled under what I can only image to be a lonely, dirty, and unfavorable voyage from the bookseller's shelve to my door.  If you haven't concluded it already, let me tell you this is my SUSPECTED stolen book finally delivered 3 to 4 months after the fact.  Now I have two copies of this fabulous book and a moral  complex if I should apologize to the suspected (now imaginary) book thief I lectured several post ago.

It appears to me now with the "red herring" in hand that my package was not carried off my any opportunistic book enthusiast, but rather delivered to the front apartments of my building rather than the rear.  And I remind you I DID put signs up around the building and I DID go check the front foyer with no success.  It is my suspicions now that the package was perhaps inside the front door inside the foyer that gives dwellers access to the stairs to the upper apartments.  This door would have been closed upon my previous inspection and thus why I had no success in my investigations.  It is also possible still that there is a book enthusiast in my building that held on to the package but did nothing with it out of guilt for these many months and when the moral dilemma became too much for them they returned it to its rightful door mat.  Either way, I am just glad it finally arrived.  Because I have two copies now I can gift one of them to someone.  Although this was not my original intent I do love gifting books to people. I already have a few in mind so if you're birthday is coming up soon watch out for it or I might wait until Christmas if I need the perfect gift for someone who has everything or is just plain hard to shop for.

Chat soon!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Buried in W.Burroughs' "The Naked Lunch"

The first time I heard of William Burroughs was in college.  A girlfriend mentioned his name and book ("Junkie") in passing along with Jame Frye's "A Million Pieces."  I read "A Million Pieces."

Sidenote: I still loved that book despite what Oprah's says.

Back on Track: Burroughs still stayed in my mind as a must read author.  Of course, this does not mean I went out and bought any of his books right away.  College was a long time ago for me.  Sigh, nostalgic glance/stare at nothing specific, float back to reality.  At home one day, I was looking for a good reason to buy more books and I turned on a documentary on William Burroughs, a Netflix instant watch selection.  I only watched about a third of it because I really should have been doing other things for work - the work that pays me.  But in that thirty minutes I actually saw the man, heard him speak, and began to get the idea of his attitude.  I knew he did lots of drugs and liked to drink - a lot.  But I didn't know much more than that.  Those thirty minutes talked about his attitude toward sexuality and what he thought about himself being called "revolutionary."  He didn't seem to make a big deal out of it.  He was just being himself or that's how I took his attitude.  He wasn't one to speak out unnecessarily about himself or opinions.  Yet, he didn't seem to pass over the questions asked of him.

I also learned in the brief time I watched the film that "The Naked Lunch" was among his early novels.  I think the film said it may have been one of the first novels he started to write but not necessarily published first.  Having a thing for first books lately (read previous post) I bought it.  It just so happened one of my writer date friends had the book too.  So we decided to read it together and gave ourselves two weeks.  As I normally do I began the book on my train commute to work.  It took me just the first page to realize I'd gotten myself into something sick, deep, and truly beyond my norm. Two weeks was not going to be enough, I knew that right away.  And luckily, my girlfriend agreed.  We agreed to postpone our reading schedule to focus on other projects.  Because I have uncontrollable type A tendencies I kept reading the book.  I figured it was going to be one of those books you have to read over many times before you even break into understanding it.  If my own intuition wasn't enough the guy at the DMV warned I'd gotten myself into something deep, sick, and best to read many times over.

I'm not sure how to read this book.  Earlier in the summer I read a book that made me uncomfortable, but not like this book.  It's not a straight narrative, I think its a pschological narrative, if that makes sense.  Its been just over four weeks and I still am not at 100 pages of this 200 page book.  Now there are lots of plain ole busy life reasons I have not gotten far in the book.  However, to be honest I don't think they are the culprit this time around.  It bothers me I have to work so hard to try and keep my head above water when reading this book.  I find myself just pushing through the pages as fast as I can because I already know I have to reread it.

I'd like to hear other peoples opinions and advice about reading Burroughs or other novels/authors they found difficult to keep up with.  I know some people don't even keep going if they aren't into the book or author.  I can understand that, but I would at least like to get through one whole book of Burrough before writing him off as "not my kind of author."

Wish me luck, I'm going to need it.  This is certainly a book I will be reading the notes and extras at the back and wish I could have read in a class with a teacher or expert helping me along the way.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Growing With Your Favorites

I recently finished "Lying Days" by Nadine Gordimer.  For those just tuning in she is my favorite author.  About a year and half ago I thought I managed to read all her novels and felt pretty accomplished as a fan.  But upon acquiring a critical work of hers that listed all her titles I was delighted and surprised that there was almost more than a handful of her novels I had only not read, but did not even know about.  These turned out to be her earlier works, the titles you won't find in most bookstores and have to search for online.  I asked and got many of these titles for Christmas that year.  "Lying Days," was among my gifts and what thrilled me even more about receiving this title was that it was her first novel.  Having it in my possession felt inspiring and like finding a "golden ticket" in a Wonka bar.

When I sat down to read the book I soon felt deflated.  It usually takes me about five pages to really lock into one of Gordimer's novels.  Her writing has an air of assumption that is not always easy to slide into.  Her first lines typically volt the reader right into the story, a character, or setting.  It takes reading through a few pages to acclimate oneself into that world and learn the subtle cues in her writing that add depth to her story.  I was shocked upon beginning the "Lying Days" to discover how bored I was as a reader.  There was significant time and attention spent on describing an opening scene.  Rather than an insightful description of place the writing came off indulgent and wordy.  It was a sharp contrast to her later novels that tend to be shorter with more concise language.

I tried to begin reading the novel at least four different times, never getting past the first twelve pages.  I had many other distractions at the time, one including my thesis so that may have contributed to my lack of devotion.  About a year or more later I decided to revisit the novel again and felt better about sliding into the story.  Those first twelve pages finally seemed to be filled with some riches upon reading them the fifth time.  I was still bored in some places, but I was letting myself really read the book instead of just trying to absorb the book.  This may only make sense to dedicated readers, but sometimes when one sits down with a book they are just absorbing it or trying to get through it without even knowing it.  This is also another reason many people advocate for re-reading books.  So that one can go back and see the things that they may have missed or overlooked without knowing it. 

I managed to finish the book between reading it to and from work and at night when I allotted the time.  It's not one of my favorites of her, BUT I found it very insightful to her as an author.  Gordimer's novels tend to focus on the lives of people in South Africa living during political turmoil.  Her stories focus entirely on the character and not so much the political atmosphere, yet, it makes the reader feel the important struggles and choices people in that world had to make daily.

"Lying Days" on the other hand was more a coming of age story.  It focused on a girl becoming a woman and facing that pivotal point in her life in South Africa where she had to decide if she was the type of person to join the cause or live outside of it.  I liked the novel and the story as I could relate it to Gordimer herself.  I don't think it was any coincidence it was her first novel.  Everyone's first novel seems to tell something of themselves one way or another.  And reading about her life in an interview online also makes me believe it was an important story for her to write.  What was also different about this story compared to her other works is the uncertainty her lead female protagonist feels about herself.  Most of Gordimer's woman character (that I have read of) come off strong or at least at peace with themselves and who they are and the lives they live.  Helen, in "Lying Days," at first seems she is this way too, but is really fighting herself to be the woman she thinks she should be. 

Gordimer's writing stayed indulgent, wordy, and at time very lofty throughout the novel.  I think she could have cut some of her philosophical tangents and achieved the same affect she wanted in her story.  True, young character coming of age do tend to over analyze, but that's not what readers want to indulge in with them.  Readers rather indulge in the character's choices and consequences of their choices.  That is the juice that helps carry a reader through the story.

I'm glad I finally managed to put "Lying Days" on my read shelf.  It helps me see Gordimer's transformation and growth as a writer more clearly.  It gives me motivation to sludge through my first novel and the ambition to see past that novel and on to the next one.  I have several more of her early works to read still and hope I can break into them faster than I did "Lying Days."

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Big Birthday Post

I'm another year older and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  Well, that's half true, I have too many things I want to be when I grow up, its silly.  Pictured above are some of my favorite gifts related to this blog my friends and family gave me.  Not pictured is the Barnes and Noble gift card I also received, but wasn't skilled enough to hold for the picture.  Excuse the shirt, you'll have to read the message backward because I'm not crafty enough to flip it around.

So far, I have spent my birthday being almost assaulted and spending more money on myself than intended.  That's typically for 20 somethings right?  I got up early and made myself cute to renew my driver's license.  Because I have not changed my address on my license since I graduated college (for two reasons I am lazy and one of my best friends still lives in that apartment) I did not receive my renewal reminder.  Luckily, my boyfriend got his the other day and it reminded me.  I had the day off work so it wasn't that big of an inconvenience.  Strolling into the municipal building, there was a woman ahead of me carrying several bags and wearing a...rather revealing outfit.  I hesitate to state it that way because if fitted properly I don't think the outfit would have normally been revealing.  But in any case, her shorts were a size too small or just too short to begin with and they rode extremely high up her backside.

There was a moment when I was trailing her into the building and trying not to notice the more than half exposed bottom of hers that I thought, "should I tell her that her shorts are riding up or is that impolite."  I decided it was impossible for the lady not to know the situation going on behind her and concluded perhaps, she didn't care.  So I carried on to the DMV.  She seemed to be going in the same direction and at one point I was making my way past her.  I glance briefly at her as happens when you past people walking or perhaps I looked out of sheer curiosity.  Either way I soon found I needed to throw up my arms in defense.

Maybe the woman was having a rough morning and didn't enjoy the attention of others (review wardrobe choices), or maybe she was having a bad hair day.  Either way when I was passing her she took the arm closest to me holding several bags and swung it towards me.  She then proceeded to yell at me and tell me I smell like alcohol and more obscenities.  In turn, I told her she was crazy (reflecting back now never tell a crazy person they are crazy, it promotes craziness).  I increased my walking speed and turned into the DMV glad to be rid of her.

Naturally, she was going to the DMV too.  She swaggered in, dumped her bags into an empty chair and moved to the back of the line directly behind me.  Like any seasoned city person I ignored her hoping her crazy wouldn't fare up again.  Wishful thinking.  I felt her lean in touch the back of my hair, and take in a good sniff.  When I turned around and told her not to touch me she started in again with the comments of me smelling like alcohol.  Now, while I admit I like a good glass of wine, I typically only drink after noon.  It was only 9:45am at this point so I had to refute her claims.  Luckily, I didn't have to stand in front of her too long before I was able to be called to a counter and complete what I had came there to do.

Not the way I planned on starting my morning.  But I made up for it with some retail therapy.  And although I had a gift card for the store I went to I still had to hand over more of my own cash than I intended to give up today.  Yet, when it's your birthday, its makes for a great excuse to indulge in the things that make you happy.

The rest of the day should go much better.  I plan on drinking the rest of my coffee out of my new mug/over sized teacup (see above pic), taking my pup to the dog beach, and dinner with some great friends tonight.  And right before bed I hope to pick out some books to spend my gift card on.  If you have any suggestions send them my way.

Thanks everyone for tuning into "Write Now" and making my birthday a day to remember. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Slow She Goes

Writing has been going slow.  Waking up in the A.M. is still very hard.  I admit some days I just can't do it.  I've now pushed the time back to 6:45 A.M. and thats just so I stay a nice person.  When I tried to get up any earlier too many days in a row, I felt like a person I didn't even know.  But the good news is, whether I'm getting up early or not, I am still trying to make time for the writing.  This of course is why its so slow.  I can only get snippets of time to do the writing before I'm off or distracted by anything else.  But it feels good to at least make these attempts.

BUT if I had to find something else to blame other than myself I'd pick the heat.  I love the heat Chicago has been having.  The downside, though, is my dog doesn't go for as long of walks, but we make sure to get him out as much as he can stand.  And even though the heat can be unbearable sometimes, it's preferable to the below zero weather Chicago can get in the winter.  But here is how the heat can work against (me at least) a writer.  You start typing.  You stop to think. Sweat drips down you arms and little sweat pools form on your computer where your wrists sit.  You get up to wipe yourself down, to get a cold drink, to switch locations.  Maybe you even turn on the air conditioning.  You cool down.  You sit back down.  You think about what you wanted to write.  You get distracted, maybe even sleepy.  Sitting on your couch cooled by the AC and beautiful weather out your window sleep seems natural.  You're content with yourself and the day, but the writing, the writing has to be done.  You will get it done right after your little siesta.  Then you pass out. 

In my defense, I drank a cup of coffee trying to fight sleep off, but it didn't work.  Next time, I'm going to get stronger coffee, move off my couch, and maybe take some speed.  Kidding! No after school warnings please.  Heat, I love you, but cut me some slack.  I appreciate not getting sunburn, yet, this summer season, but I would also appreciate a gentle breeze even now and then to keep me awake.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mothering and Writing

As most experiments, the first day results always seems to out do expectations then the remaining days never live up to the first.  On the days both girls napped I did better in terms of sitting down to write with the right attitude.  It would be the middle of the day, I would be slightly tired, but I'd rally and do the work.  On days only one of the girls napped it was much harder to make time during the day for writing.  For example, one day I decided instead of posting to my blog in the morning, I would try and get a paragraph or so in while they ate breakfast.  This didn't work very well because the older one took advantage of it by eating very slowly, playing with her food, and trying to hide the fruit her mother instructed she eat.  The younger one wanted attention and I was instructed to feed her her yogurt if I didn't want to clean it out of her hair and off the floor when breakfast was done.  I managed a few sentences that morning, but nothing worth bragging about.

The most valuable lesson I took away from watching the little ones is to try and do the writing before the kids go down for bed.  The day I tried writing after everyone was done for the day, I realized I was done for the day too.  I had no juice left in me to strung the chords of creativity in my brain.  Thus, that day no writing got done.  Well maybe part of a sentence, that counts right?  This helped reinforce my getting up early to write ambitions.  The pro writers, if that's what you'd call them, have the right idea.  Do your work first thing before the day gets tainted or bogged down with the happenings of life.  I've been home a few days now and haven't kept to my writing schedule because I'm being selfish and giving myself some days off.  But come tomorrow, I'll get back on that horse.

In other related news, I think I am going to get rid of my desk.  I love my desk because its old and has character, and a LARGE top surface for clutter to mingle on 24/7.  The problem is I rarely sit and write at my desk.  For example, I am writing on my laptop now at my high top table, looking at my desk.    It fits well in my apartment, but it would also clear up more space to walk around in the apartment if it wasn't here.  The functionality of the desk is low, based on my not using it, and I always want more space in my apartment.  So, is getting rid of it the right thing or should I hold on to it for ... for what purpose?   A writer needs a desk, right?   A space they can mark as their place of creation?  Maybe, maybe not.  I'm going to think it over some more, but I did just clean it out today.  I don't want to put it in the back alley it does deserve better than that.  Maybe I'll try and sell it or give it to one of my friends.  I'll keep you all posted.

Monday, July 11, 2011


The first day was good for me, the babies, and the writing.  We attended a baby date with one of my best friends from high school and my nieces were having so much fun they played right through nap time.  We got back home right about when they would have been getting up from nap time.  So I switched up the schedule a little on them and let them sleep for like an hour and half.  I don't know too many things about kids, but I know not to let them nap too long at the later end of the day or you'll be up all night.  I took that time to have my third cup of coffee and sit down with my writing.  It was very tempting to lay down with the ladies, but I wanted to make an honest attempt at fitting in my writing while "mothering."  My word count was better than my early morning sessions, 384.  I probably could have written for a bit longer than I did, but this is where the balancing act comes in.  If I wrote longer and I'd pay for it by being up all night.  So instead I chose to be satisfied with the timeI had to write and kept the babies close to their usual schedule.  I don't think I have to remind you all of my feelings about sleep, being up all night with energized babies might break me at this point in my life.  So I chose to keep a good balance of my competing priorities.

It all turned out in my favor.  I got as much sleep as I could hope for and my nieces aren't cranky or whiny.  I'm finding time to blog in the am with plans to work on my novel in the late afternoon.  Let's hope I keep it up today.