Monday, April 28, 2008
Allison Winn Scotch is one of my favorite authors. I can't remember when or where I first heard of her or her books, but I quickly became a fan.
In honor of the launch of the paperback edition of her first novel, I'd like to introduce her to those of you who haven't yet met her or her work. The Department of Lost and Found, is an interesting cross between the comedic elements of chick-lit and deeply thoughtful issues of women's lit. I believe it reflects those of us in that in between place that exists in our thirties (and forties for some of us singletons), where we have left the carefree recklessness of our twenties, but not yet met the middle aged existential crisis of middle age.
It is the story of a young woman who is deeply involved in her career and then suddenly, after a diagnosis of breast cancer comes face to face with her mortality. We join her on this journey and experience the impact that it has in her choices regarding her career, her relationships with friends, colleagues, family, and most importantly herself.
I highly recommend this book because it does not candy coat the illness or the process of recovery, it is heartrending and honest. It is at times messy but ultimately affirming of how we grow through adversity. Go get your copy of the paperback and enjoy!
But this is more than just another author's tour.
I want to take this opportunity to give a big, huge plug to Allison's blog. This is absolutely one of the best blogs on the writing process and the path to publication. If you are a writer published or aspiring, I cannot recommend a better place to stop every day. Allison also writes articles at Writer Unboxed another very worthy writer's blog.
To round out this unabashed promotional event, I want to finish with a preview of her next book: Time of My Life. You can read the first chapter of this book by clicking on this link to this page of her website.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Some people get away with murder.
Today, somewhere in the world, someone committed a murder for which they would never be held responsible. Did that make the murder more delectable? Or did it frustrate the murderer who ached for recognition? The murder as a signature, a statement, a message that would not be understood until its author was recognized. Did some murderers see themselves as prophets?
This morning, I drove Stepan down the mountain to the airport and kissed him good-bye. On the drive, we were both polite, egg-shell friendly, carefully avoiding any of the unpleasant topics from the night before. At the curb-side check in, we hugged, Stepan promised to send my best to our friend in Moscow. I stood with my arms wrapped around my chest as he went through the whooshing doors and did not turn to return my final wave farewell. I nodded and smiled to myself as I got back into my car and pulled back into traffic leading into the city.
While I was in Reno, I made two stops. First to the bookstore, where I bought a slim black leather journal. I had not finished the pages of my current journal, the pleasantly colored one that sat on my nightstand, but I felt it was time to begin anew. My second stop was at an electronics store.
Climbing back up the mountain, I listened to Mozart’s Magic Flute. Great driving music. The road up to Lake Tahoe rounds a bend that suddenly opens and you feel as if you are climbing into the sky. The dusty, sun parched desert below is eventually replaced by snow-banked walls of white that enclose you, towering pine trees providing shade from the incessant light. I open my sun roof and enjoy their crisp scent and growing chill as the road climbs higher. My mood is buoyed by the music, my adrenalin tapping my fingers as I contemplate the beginning of another game. I knew I would not go straight home now, nor to the bookstore. I preferred a leisurely drive around the lake, something to cool the thoughts that now raced through my mind.
The journal found among Mrs. Corman’s estate library, the one recounting the murder of Katrina, was mine. I had recognized it immediately. When I bought it, I hesitated to spend so much on a book of blank pages, but I was enticed by the beauty of it, the way it felt, the buttery soft leather an appealing crimson providing cover for its gilt-edged pages. It sat nicely in my hand. I imagined how good it would look with its pages filled with lines of handwritten text, words recounting events worthy of its beauty. But when I took it home, I was intimidated by it. It was too precious, my vocabulary too simple, my life too boring to record anything creditable in such a book. I was broken by it. Then I was saved. The journal was stolen from me before I could reach the final page.
Now, its pages were filled with such strange horrible stories. Since its purchase, I’d bought the canvas-covered journals that cost one quarter of the leather journal, making it much easier to fill their pages. I no longer questioned the worthiness of my words. I still wrote with a fountain pen, though now a less expensive one. I filled lines with mindless ramblings and never worried about the cost per page.
Did I worry that these journals would be stolen? I no longer cared. I sometimes found myself writing long detailed letters to Tom, arguments defending my actions. I wrote with defiance, half daring, half wishing, these journals would be stolen also. And with them, I would gladly give all of the memories of that time and every day since.
In Crime and Punishment one of the most renowned passages was an exchange of dialogue between the murderer Raskolnikov and the investigating detective, Porfiry.
Porfiry asks, “In [ your] article all people are somehow divided into the ‘ordinary’ and the extraordinary.’ The ordinary must live in obedience and have no right to transgress the law, because they are, after all, ordinary. While the extraordinary have the right to commit all sorts of crimes and in various ways to transgress the law, because in point of fact they are extraordinary.”
Raskolnikov in turn, defends his position, “I merely suggested that an ‘extraordinary’ man has the right… to allow his conscience to…step over certain obstacles…In my opinion, if, as the result of certain combinations, Kepler’s or Newton’s discoveries could become known to people in no other way than by sacrificing the lives of one, or ten, or a hundred or more people who were hindering the discovery, or standing as an obstacle in its path, then Newton would have the right, and it would even be his duty…to remove those ten or a hundred people, in order to make his discoveries known to all mankind.”
I am sure now that this was the position that Tom took. That he was extraordinary and his actions, therefore, beyond the law. I have to admit an admiration; there was something very appealing in Raskolnikov’s argument.
I had been reading Tolstoy’s Anna Kareninina when I was in Moscow. That was the problem. Had I been reading Dostoevsky, perhaps I would have done things differently. I’m sure of it now. I would have done things much differently. In Tolstoy, who could I identify with? Luchen? He was much too perfect. Too good for me. Anna? No, I found nothing to admire in her. No, I was simply reading the wrong book. It could have turned out differently. I realized now that I’d received a second chance. Would I, like Raskolnikov, seek redemption rather than condemnation?
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Tonight, the sky is pregnant with swollen white clouds hovering over the night sky. Their weight creates a strange mixture of atmospheric circumstances. Flashes of a rare winter lightening snake between the clouds, followed by a muffled rumble of thunder coming from far away. Undecided between snow or rain, the clouds send a shower of wretched ice pellets. The air pressure has become oppressive. Locally, the old wives tale says this weather causes the blood pressure to spike, hence the headache that sits at the base of my skull and sends fingers of pain that end in knots against each temple.
I had tickets to the opera, but I gave them to my secretary. She was thrilled to get them and said that she would take her mother. Fifth row center orchestra. I hope they will enjoy the show.
I console myself with Maria Callas singing Puccini’s “Un Bel Di Vedremo”. I will replay the track over and over. I have turned out all of the lights in my apartment. There is no fire in the fireplace. I have not lighted a single candle. I move through the apartment by the light of the streetlamps outside, stopping from time to time to look out the window, to check the weather, to see what is happening outside these walls.
A shimmering reflection reveals the thin coating of ice already forming on the sidewalk. Little Russian Ladas heading up the hill skid jerkily to and fro on worn tires, like spawning salmon heading upstream. Below my window, a young woman clutches her male companion as she slips and nearly drags him down with her.
It is a night for staying in. And that is what I will do. Until later. In the interim, I lay down in the living room to watch the play of shadows, serenaded by the haunting voice of Madame Butterfly lamenting the departure of her lover, crying for his return. Like Katerina, she fell in love with a foreigner only to have that love taken and then spurned. Like Katerina, her life ended in a tragic, mess of blood and knives. Only hers was a suicide, not murder. But are they really so different? In my mind I see Katerina again, on a stage in a kimono holding a knife, a smear of bright red lipstick mimicking the gash of red blood that spreads, staining the bright white sash, I see her in the park looking at the man who holds the knife. I feel a warm tear slide down the side of my face.
Eventually I close my eyes and sleep.
At three a.m., the alarm clock buzzes softly and I get up from the couch. In the bathroom I close the door before turning on the light. I carefully make up my face, put on the dress I’d hung on the back of the door earlier in the evening.
As I finish, I hear the doorbell ring and I go to answer it, checking my watch, quarter to four. My friend is there, I quickly pull on my coat and follow him down the hall to the stairwell.
We walk down the ancient marble stairs in silence. I follow behind him a few steps. He moves quickly, sure of his steps, I hesitate unfamiliar with these stairs in such dim light, the dips and cracks more exaggerated. He stops occasionally, silently encouraging me to keep up. At the bottom of the stairs, in the entrance way, a man comes in. My friend mumbles something to him as he reaches out a hand toward me and they both laugh. I keep my eyes downcast, and my mouth shut.
Outside, the streets are quiet. The sky is clear and dark, all traces of the storm have vanished along with the pressure that caused my headache.
He takes my hand as we step across the sheets of ice and remnants of hard packed snow to reach his truck. It’s cold inside and I see my breath as I cup my hands and blow on my fingers. I wrap my arms across my chest and stare through the windshield. As he turns over the ignition my friend looks over at me and smiles, then laughs. He releases the brake and lets the truck roll off the sidewalk and onto the street where it slowly picks up speed on the ice covered street. We are like children on a sled going downhill on a freshly packed snowy hill. For this moment we are free and filled only with the exhilaration of being out late and alone.
We head through the empty streets. We go to his apartment where we will talk until dawn. I will tell him what I witnessed. I will tell him what I said.
He will tell me I am foolish. But he will offer advice.
Video: Maria Callas sings 'Un bel di vedremo' : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLaY2VcIEqo&feature=related
photo credit: http://www.rogerandfran.com/ygigs120.jpg
Friday, April 18, 2008
Like thousands throughout this country, I am a great fan of The Pioneer Woman Cooks!
Ree not only creates tasty dishes that anyone can tackle at home, her wonderful photos take us through each step of the cooking process.
Inspired, I decided to apply this technique while sharing one of my favorite cocktails...one that I claim is not only yummy, but good for you, too....the Pomegranate Vodka Tonic. (As for you 'haters' that want to remind me that Oprah featured a pomagranate-tini on her party at home show last Christmas...I say, did it have tonic??!!!)
First our cast of characters....you'll need vodka, of course. I recently began boycotting Absolut my vodka of choice, after they ran an offensive ad in Mexico. Google now informs me that they have apologized for their gaff.
Next you'll need the mixers: pomagranate juice and tonic, do I need to mention the ice? Are we in England? Nope. Hence, the ice.
Do I need to tell you to add ice to your glass?
Okay, add ice to your glass.
The amount you add is up to you. I suppose it has something to do with how 'cold' you like your drink, or whether you've ever worked in a bar and want to fool yourself into thinking you are pouring more vodka than you actually are by adding more ice.
As you can see, I like it cold. In fact, sometimes after the drink is made, I actually put it in the freezer and go for a walk...can you say slurpee?
But I digress. Let's get this party started. Add the vodka of your choice in the amount of your choice. (I've already made my choice clear, although with their recent apology I may go back to Absolut). I'd like to mention that Ketel One is also an outstanding vodka and may become my new vodka of choice.
The hilarious irony? Back in Azerbaijan, pomagranate juice sells by the quart for about two dollars. Here in the States? Priceless!
So, if we were in Azerbaijan I'd say pour away. Here in the States, this little bottle cost about five dollars, so I add a knuckle's worth.
Recently, being a frugal shopper, I tried using a store brand tonic water instead of a national brand. What I quickly learned is this....sometimes that old adage is true: you get what you pay for. The store brand tasted like sticky sweet carbonated water....
I like Schweppes not only for its taste, but also because its wide mouth bottle seems to best handle the gas froth that usually occurs when you open a bottle for the first time. Other than that, I'm sure Schweppes is equal to Canada Dry in taste.
The addition of tonic creates a lovely froth at the top of the drink, a sparkle, while cutting the intensity of the Pom. Think of it as sweet and sour...better yet, think of it as a SweeTart!
Here it is...I always add more ice at the end....again, it's that cold thing, see above.
By the way, have I ever mentioned how I love Paris? That it may be my favorite city in the whole world? Remind me to tell you about it sometime....
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
At the age of eleven, I joined the swim at my school. For the next eleven years I was a competitive swimmer, specifically, a sprint freestyle-er. There was a group of friends/swimmers who went through these years with me, who I, in effect, grew up with from childhood through those formative years of high school. We parted, when college took us in different directions.
Eventually, my efforts in swimming resulted in an athletic scholarship to the University of Michigan. My parents were very pleased, so was I. But I left these friends behind as our paths diverged and we went on to pursue our adult lives.
There is not enough time to cover the myriad of happy memories I have of those eleven years in swimming. Years of going to swim practice at 5 a.m., not so bad when it was a balmy summer morning in Fort Lauderdale, it was a bit trying when our outdoor pool did little to shield us from the chilly winter mornings.
Then there were the swim meets I attended with my beloved father, checking my lane position at the start of the meet, celebrating when I made my time cuts for C, then B, then A levels, then consolation finals, and later championship finals. The chocolate chip cookies and lasagna my father would make before big meets, the care packages that followed me to college. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of my father and I from this time, but I do have wonderful memories that will take their place. Those memories are cherished gifts that I treasure in the ten years since his passing.
In addition to the athletic scholarship, and the irreplaceable time I got to spend with my father, are the lasting friendships that were formed.
This past weekend Mr. Weaver, pictured above, and Mrs. Weaver pictured at the end of this post, hosted a reunion weekend for a group of us that shared these years of swimming...in some cases, it was an opportunity to meet with teammates I hadn't seen in more than twenty years.
What made this day so special is that despite the years and distance, it was if no time had passed. The strength of the bonds we forged in those early years have withstood the test of years.
And that is one of the joys of the camaraderie of sport. What you learn is not only how to test yourself, but how to work with others, how to share both the struggles and joys of training and competition. Somehow that forges a bond that few others can understand. And this is important to understand, swimming is not really a team sport, it is a team of individuals competing at times against each other, and at other times together as a team.
What swimming teaches you is how to do both. How to push yourself beyond your limits to achieve personal bests, how to handle competition with someone you also call your friend, how to compete against that person in one race and then work with that person to win another race. Swimming, and other sports or competitive endeavors, teach us how to work through seasons of failure, how to keep going, how not to quit, how to set goals, and eventually, to watch the fruits of those labors become the laurels of victory.
What is truly remarkable, is that we were close with the parents of our group as well. They were an integral and often hilarious part of our journey through the competitive season. There were many mornings when they stood in the pool complex kitchen making breakfast for us while we worked out. There were the countless weekends they gave up to take us to swim meets. And when we get together for a reunion, their presence is just as important as ours.
Because some of them became life-long, dearly cherished friends like... Mrs. Weaver.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Today, you'll see this chapter in third person...and then at the end, I've re-written the last two paragraphs in first person. I'd welcome your thoughts on which appeals to you more as a reader.
Thea embraced Stepan. His pale, chubby cheeks were crimson from the cold. His light brown hair stuck out at the edges of a ratty fur hat that might have been dog hair. And his down jacket was too long on his short, round frame.
“Your friend asked me to stop by and see you,” he said.
“Why didn’t he just pick up the phone, or send an email?” she asked.
“You know,” Stepan replied looking over my shoulder, “he likes to do things differently.”
“So he sent you all this way?”
Stepan laughed, “Come all this way to say hello? No. I’m on my way to a technology conference in Las Vegas. He asked me to stop in to see you. He wants to know that you are okay.”
“I’m fine,” Thea said, brushing her hair behind her shoulder. “I like my new hometown.”
“And this is your new career?” he asked, as Thea ushered him into the shop. “Do you own this place?”
“I work here part-time,” Thea said as she put the electric kettle on to boil. She turned her back to Stepan to prepare the pot of tea, selecting two aromatic Earl Grey sachets. As she separated the tea bags and dropped them into the bottom of the pot she noticed her hands trembling slightly. From the excitement of an unexpected visitor, she assured herself, that’s all.
They spent another two hours catching up over the pot of tea and shortbread cookies Thea’d taken from the shelf. Stepan wandered around the store when Thea’d gotten up to help a customer. Later, she closed the shop an hour early, and spent the rest of the afternoon showing Stepan around the small downtown. Then she checked Stepan out of his hotel and took him home.
While Thea built a fire and settled Stepan on the couch with a beer, they talked of old times and gossip. He told Thea his friend’s business was doing very well, which she already knew. Only a coup could upset his empire, and in even in that event she’d wager that he’d find a way to profit.
Thea carried a glass of Chardonnay into the living room and sat on the sheepskin rug in front of the fire.
“I’ve been living a quiet life until yesterday,” Thea said.
He smiled and took another sip of his beer. “You have a new boyfriend?”
“What? No, no,” she shook her head, knowing he would report everything said tonight. “Someone delivered a package to my back door last night.”
He looked sideways over his glass. “That was me. He wanted to make you a present from him since he is sorry that he can’t be here.”
“So he had you sneak up and leave a book outside my back door?”
“He sent the book. But the method of delivery was my idea. Like those old spy novels. Very cryptic, yes?”
“Very funny,” Thea frowned, though she was relieved her earlier fears amounted to nothing. “You can also tell him that I found my old journal yesterday, the one I kept in Moscow.”
“You wrote about our drinking parties in this journal?” Stepan was, for the most part that tricky combination of a brilliant techie and a happy drunk.
Now it Thea understood that Stepan had no idea of what the journal contained. On the other hand, her friend in Moscow was well aware of the journal’s contents and the events it reported, though he had not shared that information with Stepan. That was what made him successful and kept him alive, he compartmentalized friends and secrets. He leveraged information into use.
“Did you stop by the bookstore last night?”
“No, I had enough trouble to make my delivery to you. It was so cold I had some more beer to drink. Then I had to return to the pretty girls I met at the casino.”
“Why is he concerned about me?” Thea asked before taking another sip of wine.
“Who knows? He wants you to come to Moscow for Christmas. He says he will make a great party in your honor when you come.”
Though she longed to see her friend again, it might not be feasible. Granted, Thea had a different passport than she’d had then.
After dinner, Thea left Stepan in her living room to drink and call his girlfriend in Moscow.
She went to her study and turned on her computer and went to a web site that provided news from Moscow. Thea searched through their archives until she found the articles she was looking for. Thea read them through and then printed out a hard copy. While her printer whirred softly in the background, she went to an internet site where she would be able to send an encrypted email. She sent two messages to Moscow. One to an American and one to a Russian.
When Thea finished, she went to her regular email account and sent a message to her friend in Moscow. It was short, announcing Stepan’s arrival and thanking him for the book. Then Thea returned to the living room, poured herself another glass of wine and rejoined her Stepan on the couch.
“Stepan, when you left that copy of Crime and Punishment, what was the purpose of leaving a calla lily dripping blood?”
Stepan frowned with concern, “I did not leave any flower, and I left a book by Turgenev not Dostoevsky. You said this flower was bleeding? What does this mean bleeding, is it an American expression?”
“I thought it was…” Thea shook her head, exasperated, “It wasn’t really blood just red paint.”
“Who would do this?” he asked, his eyes sharpened. “Have you made dangerous friends here?”
Thea waved away his question and asked one of her own, “Did you stand under my window after you left the book?”
Stepan snorted and then looked at Thea as if she were had lost her mind. “I am not a voyeur! But now I am becoming concerned. Maybe we should make a phone call.”
“No, it must have been prank by some high school kids. I’m just sorry the copy of Turgenev was taken.”
She awkwardly changed the subject, despite Stepan’s protests and suggestions that they call their mutual friend in Moscow to report this strange coincidence. When she’d refused, Stepan had become sullen and launched into a lengthy speech on why she should not be living alone, where she should move, going so far as to suggest she move back to Moscow to share a flat with his sister. This line of conversation had been fueled with more beer until eventually he’d gone to bed shortly after two a.m. Exhausted, Thea’d come upstairs, changed, and then turned out the lights.
Thea stood at her bedroom window and looked out toward the trees. Thea wanted to call the friend in Moscow, but that relationship was tenuous. It was tainted by the conflict she’d brought him into during her last days in Moscow and while they’d parted friends, there was still a delicately mended wound beneath the surface. She needed to keep him away from this new situation.
Faint impressions were still visible in the snow below. So, Stepan wasn’t the only one who’d decided to visit her last night. The other person had left his tribute after Stepan. Had he followed Stepan? Or was he already here, watching, and then seeing an opportunity, decided to load the gift. But why the exchange of one book for another? It was so clumsy. And why the wrapping? Thea walked across the room and pulled the torn remnants from the garbage can next to her bed. Plain brown paper that could be bought anywhere.
Ropes of despair and anger twisted and knotted into a silver ball at the center of her chest. She looked down and realized her hands were clenched into painful fists. She straightened her fingers and touched the cool glass of the window. Thea only wanted to be left alone. She had left Moscow. Wasn’t that good enough for them?
Why now? Moscow was six months ago. In that time, Thea hadn’t heard a word from anyone she’d known back there. Thea had done more than they’d hoped for. Not only had she left, she’d made every effort to disappear from their screen. She used a different name here. She told no one about her experiences there. Now, some other event, some other person had triggered wires that lead to her. Hadn’t she buried them all?
### And now the same two paragraphs in first person POV. Which appeals more to you? Please leave your comment below.
Ropes of despair and anger twisted and knotted into a silver ball at the center of my chest. I looked down and realized my hands were clenched into painful fists. I straightened my fingers and touched the cool glass of the window. I only wanted to be left alone. I had left Moscow. Wasn’t that good enough for them?
Why now? Moscow was six months ago. In that time, I hadn’t heard a word from anyone I’d known back there. I had done more than they’d hoped for. Not only had I left, I’d made every effort to disappear from their screen. I used a different name here. I told no one about my experiences there. Now, some other event, some other person had triggered wires that lead to me. Hadn’t I buried them all?
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Last night Diane Sawyer interviewed Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor who is dying from pancreatic cancer. In response to this tragedy Dr. Pausch wrote and gave the "The Last Lecture" to a packed auditorium of students and friends. The lecture has made it's way around the internet, and I have included a You tube version above, because I think it is very important and timely. He has also written a companion book which expands upon the ideas and it is now a bestseller on amazon.com.
I decided to post this lecture after I started mulling over my 'nightstand' post from yesterday. In that post, I shared the books that currently comprise my reading list. As I remarked toward the end of the post, as I shared the list of books, I realized there was a theme that the sum of the books represented...self-improvement, yes, but also reflection, on where I am now, where I want to be in the future, and what is or is not keeping me from taking action to make those goals/dreams come true.
I am reading to see how others have done it, because I realized that right now, for a variety of reasons including fear of failure, a sense of responsibility for caring for my mother, as well as my enjoyment of her companionship, have all muddied the waters and left me stuck, unsure, and watching time slip by...rather than gaining momentum.
There's so much more I want to share, but this was a big first step for me. We'll talk more about this in the coming weeks and I hope you will share your thoughts on your journey, what works to keep you moving forward, what sometimes keeps you stuck, what helps you to remain optimistic no matter what.
In the interim, I hope you will take the time to watch this video either here or on You tube, or buy the book on amazon, or check it out from the library....or do neither if you feel it's not your thing.
As always, thanks for stopping by!
P.S. tomorrow we'll get back to something lighter...another installment of murder most macabre from The Glass Mystery!
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Here's my nightstand.
It includes a stack of books that I'm currently reading, a bottle of water, my clock (that doesn't have an alarm) and that huge red monolith which is my journal.
Generally, I read one book at a time.
Things have taken a turn, lately, as the books that I'd ordered from the libary all came at once and so I've been forced to attempt reading several books at once.
At first I found the experience very disconcerting, being a one book at a time person. Then I learned to embrace the joy of grazing....traveling from one book to the next as mood or whim dictated. Which brought me to this post, and then to wonder, what's on your nightstand? What are you currently reading?
Here are two books of a spiritual bent that I keep nearby for those times when I need a bit of encouragement.
This is memoir that I'm just beginning....and it is so beautifully written, it is like reading a recipe of a favorite dish. Kim Sunee is a food writer, but she is also a very astute observer of life and those around her....this doesn't mean that she's always correct, in fact I sometimes find her behavior disagreeable to my sensibilities...but even those moments are beautifully transcribed.
Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors. And so I am currently making my way through all of her books. She writes the novels I long to be capable of....compassionate, intellectual, crafted, thought provoking.
This is a year in a life...one of those books where the author derives a premise of some sort of sacrifice and then records the results. The cover says it all.
I'm actually enjoying it in a perverse sort of way that may have something to do with my decision not to by myself an Hermes scarf for my birthday.
This book and the three that follow are actually not on the nightstand, but waiting their turn out on the coffee table in the living room. Kazuo Ishiguro will have many brilliant things to teach me about not only how to construct a novel, but how to write searingly brilliant prose.
Since I just joined Weight Watchers, I'm hoping this book will 'scare me straight' and be an aid and a comfort as I attempt to foreswear my homemade red velvet cupcakes for salad.
I won this book! And its autographed by the author! Very cool.
I love romance novels and those who write them....it's a calling. My favorite are 'Harelquin Presents', always set in an exciting international locale, always old school, alpha males and smarty pants women.
Has anyone noticed a theme?
Anyone ran out to the kitchen to check the calendar to see if it's actually New Year's Eve?
Self-improvement seems to have found its way into my psyche. Now it's got me wondering how to make the most of the rest of my life.
Have I mentioned that this is an autographed copy? I think Ceclia rocks!
So it's your turn.....tell me what you're reading now....and why!
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
The anger is a Gordian knot. The revenge, begging for release is a black hole whose gravitational pull will surely drag me in, to my destruction.
I savor it. The anger, the self-destruction, all of it, because at least it is real and there is so little that I really feel amidst the cerebral machinations that exist in their place. I can face anything other than my loneliness.
So I hold these fresh emotions and with my free hand I raise my glass to my lips and take another long drink from my glass of wine. I grimace and hold the brightly acidic liquor in my mouth and when I swallow, I savor the oak and a metallic note tinged with a child’s frustration upon realizing the limits of her power. It threatens to choke me. I take another sip of my wine and chase it down.
Earlier this afternoon, I saw him walking between the main building and the trailers that housed the commissary and some of the general staff. I went outside as if I were going to the commissary. I stopped him.
“It must have been difficult for you to attend her funeral,” I said.
He looked at me and then shrugged, “We’re all shocked by her senseless death.”
“Shocked that it was an accident?”
“Of course,” he said.
“But it wasn’t, was it?”
He stopped and looked up at the windows of the on the second floor. “You think it was something else?” He said not lowering his gaze to mine.
“I was in the park that night,” I said.
“If you saw something you have a duty to report it,” he replied.
“I saw her murdered.”
“Why haven’t you said anything?”
“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully. “I guess I can’t figure out why the man who killed her did it.”
Now he turned to me and looked into my eyes. “And what are you planning to do with your information?”
I shook my head, “I don’t know. I was hoping you would be able to help me.”
“Perhaps you can tell me what you saw,” he said, his composure regained as a plan formed in his mind.
“Well, I was on my way home from Mass, so I’m sure of the time,” I said with a trace of a smile on my lips. “I cut through the park as I always do. I saw a couple. They were laughing, sharing a flask.”
“You said you got a quick look at the man,” Tom said. “Do you think you’d be able to make identification?”
“Maybe, I’m not sure it was very dark,” I hedged.
“And you were how far from the couple, when you saw the alleged attack?”
I looked around the yard as if gauging my distance. I nodded toward a tree on the other side, “To there, how far would that be?”
He followed my direction, considered the distance and replied, “Thirty yards, maybe forty. Either way, that’s quite a distance at see at night, much less to be able to be sure of who you are seeing, or what they are doing. I mean you thought you saw a couple, it could have been a couple of men.”
“No, it was definitely a man and a woman. I heard her giggle, it was undoubtedly feminine.”
“Ok, a man and woman. You still would be hard pressed to convince anyone that you were able to make out their features from that distance.”
“Actually the man looked a lot like you,” I said. “Had I been questioned at that moment, I would have signed a sworn statement that you were the one the last one with her that night.”
“Then I guess it’s a good thing that you haven’t reported this information. You haven’t have you?”
“No, no, you’re the first person I’ve told. I thought that you were the right one to tell.”
“It would be slanderous if you were to even jokingly suggest to anyone that you thought you saw me with Katerina that night. The Ambassador wouldn’t take such remarks lightly. I’m afraid it might result in your tour being abruptly ended.”
“Even if it was true?”
“You should disabuse yourself of that thought immediately. As far as anyone at the Embassy or the Moscow Police Force is concerned, Katerina’s death was an unfortunate consequence of not excercising proper judgement. You might learn from her mistake.”
“Are you threatening me?”
He shook his head, “Listen, you don’t know what you saw that night. Don’t make a mistake that will hurt innocent people. Yourself included.”
Before I could respond to his threat, he walked away. I was left staring at the tree across the courtyard, second guessing myself, wondering if my fertile imagination, bored or tired, had conjured two familiar faces within the couple’s embrace. Perhaps to make sense of the senseless violence that followed? To cast guilt on one or both parties whom I had previously assumed were conducting an affair? What if I was wrong?
I shivered, instinctively rubbing my shoulders as I headed back toward the entrance to my building to the stairwell that would take me to my office. The weak winter afternoon sunlight was fading over the top of the tree top that I had gauged. A chilling breeze rustled its leaves and I turned as I reached the door and looked up as its branches waved a mournful farewell.
This leads me back to where I am now once again in my living room, working my way through the better part of a bottle and the rest of the evening. It is a dark winter’s night, a fire warms the room and provides the only source of light. After work I went to mass, did not go to confession, but did say silent prayers as I stared up at the image of Christ crucified. Afterwards, I walked home through the park and stood in the same spot that I had that night and gazed toward the place where I imagined they’d stood. I waited as my eyes adjusted, realized the difficulty in maintaining a sharp focus in the evenings shadows within the dark. I stared until my surety left me.
Now I sit with conflicting thoughts of doubt and revenge, each underscored with the realization that given his position, anything I might attempt will be dangerous.
But I am enjoying the pulsating anger that warms my veins and is not cooled by the next gulp of wine I take.