Going Home

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The vacation countdown continues - T minus 9 hours and 45 minutes. I've been doing that all day, because that's just how dorky I am. I had to do something to psyche myself up for vacation so I wouldn't spend the whole time having the usual pre-vacation what-if-I'm-allergic-to-everything-in-every-restaurant-I-go-to panic. This time I've decided to be more proactive, and I'm bringing my own salad dressing, fake mayo, and dessert to the restaurant with me. I've tried this a few times before, but I stopped doing it because I found it totally mortifying. But this time I've decided to embrace the weirdness, and sit back and enjoy seeing the confused looks on the waitresses faces when I say, "I won't be needing any dressing with that salad, I brought my own. And no need to bother with a dessert menu, I brought that too." Some people show up at restaurants and are crazy enough to expect the restaurant staff to do all the work. But I'm a team player, and so I bring 40% of the meal with me.

I spent the day trying to fit reading the book in around making fake cookies (which turned out really well once I put a bunch of frosting on them), fake brownies (which ended up the consistency of cement, despite remaining liquid the entire time they were cooking), fake cupcakes (which look so normal I could weep tears of joy just looking at them), fake Chicken-Pasta salad (for our we're-so-retro-and-fabulous picnic), and fake salad dressing (so I can see just how many weird stares I'm going to get while carrying my own bottle of salad dressing into the restaurant.)
And now I'm going to have a quick moment of whining: I really miss the days of being able to open that beautiful plastic wrapper on the Hostess cupcakes and then sitting back and eating something that was made in a factory and is laced with colorings, fat, and artificial preservatives. Those were the days.

I'm afraid that the food I'm taking on vacation is all that I can disclose about the trip at this time since the location is top-secret (except for of course with the people my sister has already informed. Memo to Alissa: Loose lips sink ships.) The books I read each day will provide the clues as to where I am vacationing at, and I'm actually going to be dorky enough to expect you to guess where I am. Or you could choose to look at it as me being arrogant enough to assume that anyone actually cares where my vacation is taking place. Either way, I hope you'll join me tomorrow for vacation-themed book number one.

Today's book, "In the sunswept beauty of San Francisco, Gillian Forrester is filled with the joy of a love that will surely last. But a painful betrayal forces her to flee to New York and a new life. There she discovers an exciting new career and a deep, enveloping passion . . . only to have her newfound happiness shaken to it's core."

I was very excited about today's book (and I'm not even being sarcastic), because it's Danielle Steel's first book. I was really looking forward to finding out if there was a difference in her writing style from this book, written in 1973, and the later ones I've read, most of which were written in the late 80s and early 90s. I quickly discovered several rather jarring differences:

  • The book was written in the first person. - I'm going to give you a moment to let that sink in . . . I understand your shock, I was stunned too. I'm trying to recall any of Steel's other books that were written in the first person, but I can't think of one. For those of you who actually have standards, and have therefore never read a Danielle Steel novel, I feel I should include some background information. Steel's usual writing style is a strange version of third person writing, in which the God-like narrator knows everything going on in every characters mind for 99.9% of the book, and then has occasional slips in which she doesn't seem to know what's going on. Jane felt sad and perhaps a little excited. Which always leaves me thinking, "What the hell do you mean, perhaps she was excited? You're the narrator, aren't you supposed to know if she's excited or not." I can't figure out why she does that. Is it just laziness? Does she just think, I don't really feel like deciding if Jane is excited or not, and I'm too tired to flip a coin, so we'll just go with "perhaps."

  • There are no elaborate descriptions of people's clothing. Instead the clothing descriptions sound like this, ". . . and I had just enough time to shower and climb into a pair of ancient jeans, a denim shirt, and my safari jacket." - Forgive me for being picky, but I just don't feel that sentence conveys everything that I need to know about the situation. A sentence like that produces far too many questions: Is the safari jacket in question similar to the one that J.R. Ewing wore on Dallas during his days off from work? Am I just the laziest person on earth when it comes to getting dressed, because never in my life have I ever climbed into my clothes? And most important of all: What about the shoes? Oh, but not to worry, Danielle does not leave us in suspense on the shoe front for long. She goes on to inform us that, "I dug my feet into an old pair of riding boots. . . " - But, once again, I am left with questions because I'm back to the "Am I a lazy dresser" issue, because I prefer to put my shoes on rather than dig my feet into them. Are there really people going through these Herculean efforts just to get dressed in the morning? I just don't think getting dressed should be that difficult for anyone who hasn't recently had a stroke.

  • Danielle is a big fan of profanity - such a big fan that if I was playing the drinking game using all swear words, my liver would have been totally destroyed by now and I would be writing this blog entry from gurney number four in the emergency room. Now I'm fascinated, and I want to read her second book to find out exactly when the profanity stops, because I don't remember it happening in her later books. I'm not offended by profanity - in fact, it often feels to me like a nice warm hug from my Maternal Grandmother, and yet even I found it to be a bit overwhelming. Although there is that part of my brain that will remain 12 years-old forever, that kind of wishes that I had counted up the swear words in the book, just to see how many there were. Just like I did when I was 12 and I spent the night at my Aunt's house and she let me watch My Cousin Vinny, despite the fact that my Mother would have never let me watch it, and I kept a running tally of the number of times a certain word beginning with the letter F was used. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that profanity was used about 750 times in this book.

I won't be posting the book for the day on Twitter or over here tomorrow, and I'm not sure if I'm going to keep up with Twitter at all while I'm gone. And any comments you leave over here probably won't get posted until the end of the day. But the blog entries will go up as usual, so I hope you'll still stop by tomorrow.