A Year by the Sea

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Warning: Tonight's entry is not going to be as whimsical and light-hearted as most entries, so if you only like the fun, light-hearted, funny kind of blog entries just skip right over this one, because this one isn't going to be a barrel of laughs (not that any of my other entries are a barrel of laughs, but I'd like to think they're at least a bucket of laughs, or a bowl, or at the very least a teacup of laughs).

My sister wanted me to read a book about the beach today since she spent the day at the beach. Today's book was the only beach related book I had in my to-read stacks, so I went ahead and read it even though it's a few pages short of the 200 page requirement I set in the beginning. Oh well, the books I read for the last few days have been almost 400 pages, so I guess it all evens out. I'm reaching a point where I'm starting to break all of the rules I set for myself: the entry much be up by 7 o'clock (please, I've been lucky to get the entry up before midnight the last few days), not reading any other books besides the book for the day (I haven't broken that one yet, but that's only because I don't have time at the moment, as soon as I'm done with the reports for work I'm going to break that rule), all of the entries have to be light-hearted (there are some books where the subject demands a more serious approach). I think I'm reaching a point with this project where I'm realizing that there is no way to map out ahead of time what's going to happen. Stepping out into the unknown is not something that I excel at - I like to know exactly what to expect before even starting with something new - so this experience is really shoving me out of my comfort zone. It's kind of nice to be able to look back on the last month and a half of reading and blogging and see that even though I had no idea what I was doing when I started this - and even though all the rules I had set for myself are falling by the wayside - that it's still okay. The project is still going well, I'm having more fun with it than I thought I would - and somehow, even on the days when I feel like I have nothing to say about the book I just read, somehow the entry still turns out alright and the words feel like they're just falling into place. I've always over-thought and over-planned things - so I'm very glad that working on this project seems to be showing me that things can still turn out alright even without be trying to force things to be a certain way. I feel like this book was the perfect book to read at this point, when I am slowly coming to these realizations, because some of the realizations that the author comes to in this book seem to mirror what has already begun to happen in my life because of this project. Isn't it funny how that happens sometimes - how just the right book can come into a person's life at a time when they are most able to receive what it has to offer. I've had the opposite feeling too many times to count, where I feel like the book itself is good but what it has to say just doesn't resonate with me at this point in my life - so it's always nice to get to experience the opposite of that from time to time.

Today's book; "Curling up with this autobiography will refresh readers' souls and adjust their attitudes. With their two sons grown and married, Anderson and her husband decided to take a "vacation" from their long marriage. Her husband moved on to a new job hundreds of miles away, while Anderson cocooned herself in her rusting Volvo and drove to her family's cottage on Cape Cod. During the year-long separation, Anderson reestablished her connection to nature and was able to discover new hope. She swam with seals, ran a marathon, worked in a fish market, and earned extra income clamming activities that gave her the opportunity to shed her image as family nurturer and allowed her to grow as an independent woman."

I don't feel like the description on the back of the book does this book justice. In fact, I almost didn't buy this book because I thought, "I'm not a middle aged woman seeking to start over in life. I don't have a stale marriage that I'm trying to get away from, or a problem with overlooking my own needs in order to take care of others. How can I possibly relate to this book." I think this book was about so much more than just becoming an independent woman - it was also about not wasting so much time trying to plan out every experience ahead of time, and not trying to force things to be what you wish they were, and about learning to appreciate what's good about the situation as it really is instead of always focusing on what's lacking. That's always been hard for me - particularly in light of the chronic illnesses that have been with me for decades now - but I am slowly learning to stop focusing on what's missing (in this case, good health) and instead deal with what is: I don't have perfect health, but I do have (thanks to bad health forcing me to work only part time) more spare time than anyone I know, which has given me the chance to read a book a day, and write this blog which I have had so much fun with. It's given me time for so many things; time to write (and fill over 100 journal volumes), time to reflect, time to read, time to figure out some things that I never would have learned had I not had ridiculous amounts of spare time. It's also given me a chance to find out that I'm capable of being really happy in the middle of a totally crappy situation - which is a very useful skill (skill probably isn't the right word, but I don't feel like searching for an online thesaurus right now) to have around. Thanks to illness I can no be happy in the middle of all kinds of crappy situations now, which is a very odd thing to be bragging about - but hey, I take my joy wherever I can find it.

I just don't feel right writing an entire entry without including some random crazy anecdote from my family, so here goes: In the beginning of the book the author mentions having a garage sale before leaving for her new life by the sea, and I had an instant childhood flashback. I can never think about my childhood without thinking of several things: junk food, Cedar Point, profanity, and garage sales. My mother loves having garage sales - she has them constantly - and her garage sales have become quite well known around town. She has a special list of people who get to come the night before, she has a cash register, refreshments are sold, music is played in the background - it's not just a garage sale, it's a garage sale experience. The best part of her garage sales was that she would be so preoccupied that we would get to watch endless hours of television and eat so much junk food that I'm surprised my growth wasn't stunted (although maybe it was, people did always expect me to be a taller than this). Just thinking about it makes me feel happy.

Tomorrow dear readers I'm going to unveil the winning book - I'm sure you're just trembling with excitement. You can still vote on the book for the 19th and the 20th - and I've corrected my instructions on how to use the comments section because apparently I explained it the wrong way (oops). Tune in tomorrow dear readers to find out if Trisha and Stefan end up together . . . Oh wait, this isn't a soap opera. I meant to say, tune in tomorrow to find out if the book you voted on won the "What Will Angie Read Next" contest.