Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Holiday summary and book review

Damn that was a fucking boring title for a blog post - I bet you three are completely riveted by that effort.

We had a great Xmas/New Year here. The weather was favourable apart from a scary downpour on Xmas afternoon that had lemon-sized hail elsewhere in the city. We only got pea sized so that's my car saved.

Writing has become painful. I know it's all in my head, but physical pain starts when I try and write anything. Like  roach clips being applied to various parts of my brain. My eyes ache, my teeth gnash my shoulders tense and ache. It's why I've not been doing it so much anymore. Still want to, still have a constant dialog running in my head that I don't know how to get out. Perhaps the idea of a dictaphone isn't a bad one after all.

When Husband asked me this year what I wanted for Xmas I said "An e-reader" and left it at that because I knew he'd go and research and find the best one. If I'd come out and said "Kindle" he'd have talked to me about the pros/cons of the various types vs Sony and I'd have had to kill him. But since this was a present and the element of surprise was allowed, he did not talk about it apart from the occasional "I think Kindles are the better choice..." then I could say "Yes I think so too." or if he'd said "I think Sony has the best e-reader" I could then suck in breath between my teeth, make a face and shrug and he'd know that would not have been the best option in my opinion. It's a balanced game we play. I do think eventually I said "I really like the Kindle, I think it's the simplest option."

So, LO! I have a Kindle Fire.

Days before Xmas, Christopher Hitchens died from his esophageal cancer. (I spelled that right without spell check! Woohoo!) which was expected as he'd been quite ill but sad all the same. I read the reflections from Stephen Fry on his friendship with Hitchens and he mentioned what bonded them was a love of P.G. Wodehouse.
"And I can claim too that I call him “old horse,” like Stanley Ukridge, or “old crumpet,” like Barney Phipps and Oofy Prosser—for we shared a love and passion for P. G. Wodehouse and such things form a bond. Wodehouse, who adored the Pekingese breed of dog, liked to judge people on whether they were sound on Pekes. Evelyn Waugh, who like the Hitch and myself, revered the Master, judged people on how sound they are on Wodehouse. To paraphrase Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice, “the man that hath no Wodehouse in him, nor is not moved with concord of sweet phrases, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night, as his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted.”
Such judgment laid at my feet to know I've not read Wodehouse and therefore could not be considered acknowledgeable by these men who I admire!  Whom I admire? Who cares, I lost all respect by creating acknowledgable. So my first downloads from Gutenberg Project were Wodehouse; The Adventures of Sally. Can you imagine my surprise when reading this that I noticed many familiar plot devices. I started predicting what was to come because, hello! It's a romance! Hitchens? Fry? Admiring above all a writer of romance?! I was happily stunned.

All that stuff aside, I truly enjoyed The Adventures of Sally. It's a great story and one where there isn't even any kissing and yet men are throwing themselves at the incredibly thin, egg only for dinner, ex dancer for hire who recently inherited $25K, plucky, straight speaking Sally. It's short, it's extremely readable. At times I had to remind myself that Sally is very unusual for the way she speaks so openly, wittily and freely with people because it's a turn of the 20th century and most women do not behave like that. She felt extremely modern so when she has very, of her time, reactions to things like; since she agreed, albeit grudgingly and in the heat of the moment, to marry this one guy she really finds icky when she truly loves another but will not go back on her promise and resigns herself to the fact she will marry the wrong man and be miserable for the rest of her life - then I wanted to shake her. But it was a very true to character thing for her to do - it was very hard to pull her into my 21st century thinking of "Fuck him, he's icky, go marry the guy you love and raise Pekingese dogs with him!" and then realise I can't she's stuck there in early 20th century.

I was struck by the way Sally was described as small, dainty, childlike throughout while her brother was described as becoming ever increasingly fat. The constant attention on her tininess and his bloatedness made me wonder if 90 years ago people really did comment this much on figure. I suppose it's not too dissimilar from today, but it was interesting from a cultural history perspective. My favourite line which made me laugh out loud was in describing the waddling Fillmore went something like "If he continues in this fashion his new bride will be called a bigamist."  I thought it was a clever insult.

I really liked The Adventures of Sally and I hope you go get it - and why not, it's free! I also got The Scarlet Pimpernel series and a few more Wodehouse titles and a couple of Dumas but not the Musketeers, I will sometime but wanted something else. Husband just finished The Count of Monte Cristo and loved it , so I'll read that and we can talk about together.

New Year was great too. I got especially spoiled as it was a special birthday for me; I turned 40.  This is me at 40:

Me at 40

 Those are not highlights, that's my hair au naturale - I stopped colouring it year ago in October and those highlights are my silver streaks. Biggest one is at the parting on my left temple. Yes I admit the greys were photoed first then I ran and put on a wee bit of make-up for the full face. And teeth! I rarely let my teeth get photographed because my front ones - which are built-up because I broke them when I was 9 - are different colours because they were done by different dentists and one of those dentists was quite colour blind. If I get my teeth bleached, then I'll have to get my front teeth replaced and colour matched will cost about $700. So, I'll just suffer it as there are more important things needing paid for than my vanity.

Can you see my Silver Streaks?

 Where the current rage is Pandora charm bracelets, by family bucked the trend and got me a Swarovski charm bracelet instead and three charms. Mine is much cooler. I am going to try and get a nice gold chain for one of them; a sparkling little goldfish with moving fins because he's so delightful. I also got a tomato and a pink heart. What I'll do is, I have a couple of old broken gold chains, I'll sell them and use that money to get a new one. Why hang on to broken gold?

There it is, all of us happy as pie, enjoying summer - which was just pretty harsh with a few days in the 90s-105. Work will settle down and be quiet soon, the kids are on Summer vacation and it's been busy and we could do with a couple of sloth days. Will be hitting the beaches soon for some much needed surfing.

Hope you all had wonderful holidays, too. Happy New Year!!