10/30/08, a few hours into being 30
As I start to type this, my 20s are 38 minutes departed.
Now, for the first time, I say:
I’ve looked forward to this birthday for years. Striving for Gandalf-like wisdom and awesomeness, I have dismayed in my youngness and lack of gray hairs.
To answer your questions before you ask them, no. No, I do not possess a magical staff the likes of which to defeat mad, powerful, and mad powerful wizards with. No, I have never defeated a balrog. And finally, yes, 30′s a far cry from 400…
…but it’s a step in the right direction!
I no longer wish to actually be Gandalf, but I remain excited by this birthday. I’m excited to know not only that I made it this far, which given my childhood was not a certainty, but that I made it.
I haven’t just lived to 30, which alone would have stunned me half my life ago to foresee. I’ve lived.
5/24/11, about halfway between 32 and 33
Yesterday, author Rusty Fischer gave my novel The Monster’s Daughter a five-star review, the title of which I’ve borrowed for this entry.
Even if I’d navigated away after taking in the stars and the title, I would have been exuberant.
I absolutely did not stop with the title. That’s a good thing, too, because the review itself was even better. See, for example:
Often funny, majorly sad, equally scary and powerfully poignant, Ginny is such a great character; one of the most realistic I’ve read in YA fiction — and I’m not just talking YA vamp fiction, either! It struck me as I read The Monster’s Daughter how without the vampire parts it would still be a riveting, dark and lyrical tale of one dysfunctional family; almost any dysfunctional family.
To me, this said: Your book accomplished exactly what you hoped it would. That’s exhilarating stuff.
As I drove home twenty minutes later, I reflected on that review. I thought of how, because of my childhood, my hopes have always exceeded my expectations for my life.
Every time something wonderful happens, I recall my birthday letters to my friends. In those letters, I’ve thanked my friends for helping my life become more full of wonder by far than I ever allowed myself to believe it might. What could be a better time to reflect on the came-before and the yet-to-come than a birthday, after all?
My next birthday email will include a few new bullets. As I type out those bullets one October to come, I’ll be thinking of where I came from. Where I’m going. All the people whose actions and words have helped get me there. And I’ll be thankful, as always, for people taking time out to lend a hand or share a kind word. It’s those graces that get me through the hard times . . . and make the already good ones, those such as I am blessed to live right now, a millionfold brighter.
ETA: I’ve added a few date references to clarify it’s not actually my birthday today, though this entry refers to a personal birthday tradition. I’m loving the preview of the warm wishes I can expect for my 33rd birthday!
I was in the middle of walking my dog and reading Bumped by Megan McCafferty when my phone beeped. I glanced at it to make sure it wasn’t a “HALP PLS!” message from my S.O., Ba.D., who was back at our apartment with our sick toddler, Li’l D.
I tucked my book under my elbow and checked my phone. Nope, no text message–just a WordPress new comment notification on my Reading While Walking post. I returned my phone to my purse and prepared to read again.
“Morning!” Two men sitting and smoking on their apartment’s steps called as I neared them.
“Hey, how’s it going?” I asked.
“Pretty well,” the skinnier of the two said with a smile. “We are having the weirdest conversation! How about you?”
“Doing pretty well. My toddler’s sick, so these are my few minutes of peace today.”
“Aw,” the skinny one said sympathetically. “I hope he feels better soon!”
“Thanks!” I said as I moseyed past them. “I hope your conversation gets, um, less weird? Or is at least pleasing if it stays weird!”
Both men laughed. I, too, was smiling as my phone beeped yet again. I extracted it from my purse and saw it was another new comment notification from a stranger. I tried to recall what comments I’d posted on blog buddies’ journals recently to lead these folks to me but drew a blank. I returned my phone to my purse and tried focusing on my book for the ninety seconds remaining on my walk.
My phone beeped again twice in that short window back to the apartment. “What the?” I wondered, my book forgotten.
Back in the apartment, I went straight to Sancho the Second, my trusty iMac. I checked my blog’s site stats page. “How the heck do I have 87 hits already?” I mused. “Wait . . . could it be . . . ?!”
“Hellz yes!” I shouted. I ran back to the bedroom, where Ba.D. was reading to Li’l D.
“Can I get a high five?! No, wait! I need a high ten!”
Ba.D. assented, then gave me another high ten when one proved unsatisfactory. “What the heck am I giving you ten for?”
I wasn’t ready to answer yet. I ran around the bedroom whooping and hollering, which led even my feverish son to giggle and shriek with delight.
After I’d mostly gotten it out of my system, I went back to the living room, calling back to Ba.D. an explanation of what it meant to be Freshly Pressed. “Congrats!” he hollered at me while our son continued to giggle at his crazy mom’s antics.
I refreshed the page and oohed to see 87 hits had turned into 150, just that quickly. My son ran up to me, still giggling at all the excitement, and threw open his arms for me to pick him up.
It was a little while longer before I’d calmed down from the high of realizing I’d been Freshly Pressed. After I had mellowed, I reflected aloud to Ba.D., “You know what’s funny? That was a ‘filler’ post. I didn’t want to have two totally serious posts back to back, so I typed that one up in twenty minutes, all the while planning my Very Serious Post about the importance of kind words . . . and apologies.” Since I posted my humorous reflections on road rage alternatives (Road rage takes a spill! (or: “How parenting is making me a better driver”), I’d meant to follow it up with a more contemplative second part. On Monday morning, I’d finally found my path to those words, but I wanted to delay them a little lest folks mistake me for the 100% cactus* I used to be.
Perhaps the lesson in all this is that a little levity pays. Sure, it’s good to be thoughtful and to practice shaping the world into a better place with kind, gentle words. Occasionally, though? It’s good to say something silly, and rejoice in all the interesting people you might never have encountered but for that silliness!
* Back in college, I was very briefly a Tri-Delt. In one evening of “fun and” games, I was unanimously and probably not wrongly voted the sister most like a cactus. I’ve gotten a lot less prickly since.
If you’ve ever seen someone reading while walking (“readwalking”), you might’ve made any number of reasonable assumptions:
- They’re reading a really good book
- They’re probably lacking a little in safety consciousness
- They spend a lot of time walking every day and have realized that reading while walking maximizes their reading time
- They spend a lot of time taking care of day-to-day life and realized that reading while walking (the dog) maximizes their reading time
Most of the folks who’ve approached me about my readwalking habit have assumed there’s a direct correlation between the awesomeness of a book and my readwalking: “Wow, that must be a fantabulous book!” Numerous times in my youth, I’d smile and reply, “No, this book is actually pretty awful. I hope the next one’s better!” Then I’d bury my nose in my book and continue on my merry way.
In other words, in my youth, there was very little correlation between the awesomeness of a book and the fact I was readwalking.
Now that I’m an octogenarian, you’re less apt to see me reading a book I’d deem “awful.” There’s definitely a clearer correlation between me liking a book and readwalking, but it’s not a causal one. Instead, it’s a reflection of the fact I spend about fourteen hours a day engaged in working, driving or caring for my (delightful) little one. If you see me readwalking these days, you can assume the book I’m reading is captivating because I wouldn’t waste scarce reading time on anything else.
With time, a reader becomes skilled in the art of checking for traffic, obstacles and other external bars to readwalking, performing these split-second checks without even being conscious of them. A skilled readwalker might occasionally experience readwalking hiccups, such as eating a mouthful of leaves or realizing they’re on the opposite side of a busy street from where they performed their last check.
Such incidents become rarer with practice, which is why an unskilled readwalker should practice the art only in small bursts on empty walkways.
These days, if you see me wandering the streets in half-darkness, leash (hopefully still affixed to a dog) in one hand and book in the other, you’d probably be right to assume the book in my hand is a good one. Still, you shouldn’t necessarily rush down to your local bookseller to buy that book.
As is true of a book’s cover, you can’t necessarily judge a book by its readwalker!