Sunday, December 16, 2012

Another Rent in the Fabric

The two days started in eerily similar ways: taking a walk, chatting with a loved one, complaining about the petty annoyances of everyday life. Soccer practices at inconvenient times. Christmas dinner with a slightly dysfunctional family. The minor frustrations of life that seemed like terrible dilemmas at the time.

Even the weather on those days was similar, though one boasted the bold blue skies of a waning summer and the other the cold crisp promise of the coming winter. Finishing the walk, grabbing some water, stretching our legs, heading back to the routine.

And then the curtain was torn.

And the following hours were spent mesmerized by the media frenzy, in shock over the depths of human depravity, and deeply questioning how it could come to this and how we could ever recover.

Before and after. Then and now. Defining lines in the continuum of time.

After that first day – 9/11/01 – I had hoped that I would never witness another rent in the fabric of normalcy. After the second day – 12/14/12 – I realize that the cloth may be irreparably tattered. 

What I know for sure is that the things I complained about, whined about – okay, bitched about – during my early-morning walks both days are insignificant irritations I would gladly reclaim as the worst problems in life. I wonder what the families of both sets of victims were grumbling about the morning before they kissed their loved ones goodbye for what would be the last time. Perhaps that pain is the one that resonates most with all of us: things left unsaid – and worse, things said that now can never be undone. 

We hear all the time about “living in the moment” and cherishing each day. But how many of us do it? I know I will write this today and probably kvetch about something stupid five minutes from now. It is human nature.
I did not personally know the victims of either 9/11 or the Sandy Hook school shooting. But they are all our families; they are all our friends; they are all our children. We all want to help yet feel helpless. There are no words, no actions, no way to change the past. But we can make today count. We can cherish the normal day.

I’ll end with this poem that I found years ago … when, at least to my mind, there were many more Normal Days.
Author: Mary Jean Iron

Normal day, let me be aware
of the treasure that you are.
let me learn from you, love you,
bless you before we depart.
Let me not pass you by in quest
of some rare and perfect tomorrow.
let me hold you while I may,
for it may not be always so. one day
I shall dig my nails into the earth,
or bury my face in the pillow,
or stretch myself tart,
or raise my hands
to the sky and want, more
than all the world, your return.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hooray! I'm Done!

Hooray! I’m Done! – Books 51-52

As I closed the back cover of Book # 52, I breathed a great sigh of relief: My 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge was officially finished. I had managed to read one book a week during 2012. And although it was an interesting adventure, I will not be repeating it … nor will I be upping the ante by doubling my intake to 104 books in 52 weeks. I did it. I’m done. Now I will read for pleasure as I always have!

So here are my final two books of 2012:

Book # 51: Someone to Watch Over Me by Judi McMahon
This book bills itself as a “novelized memoir” – which made it especially intriguing to me. I’ve always wanted to fictionalize my life, and in my younger days I often wrote stories featuring myself and my friends in a variety of escapades, some of which were frighteningly similar to reality. This book was obviously self-published – and not edited very well. Nevertheless, there was something compelling about it that kept me interested in the main characters. Perhaps it was the fact that they grew up in New York during the same era as I did and faced many of the same personal and professional challenges. Or maybe it was just because I wanted to see what awful typo would come up next: like spelling the purple dinosaur’s name “Barnie” a number of times … or the Egyptian president’s “Anwar el Dadat.” Then again, we WERE warned that it was novelized. 

Book # 52: Catch Me If You Can by Frank W. Abagnale with Stan Redding
I love-love-loved this book! And I also loved the film by the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. I’d seen the movie a couple of years ago, but somehow the fact that this consummate con man was only in his late teens/early twenties when he perpetuated his crimes had escaped me. This was one of those books that had you rooting for the “bad guy” unremorsefully! Most, if not all, of the capers he pulled would be impossible to get away with today (I think) but reading how he managed to forge, con and smooth-talk his way around the globe was – as the cover blurb states – “dangerously inspirational.” For a fun read, I highly recommend this one.