Monday, December 22, 2008


Am I the only one who will read a book more than once just for the sheer pleasure of it? Or is Cape Cod just a particularly illiterate region?

I've been re-reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien as is my wont every year around Christmas-time. Here is a normal conversation that occurs between me and co-workers, friends, kids in my youth youth group, etc:

Other Person: What are you reading?
Me: Tolkien, The Two Towers, part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Actually, I just finished it last night, I'm on the third chapter of The Return of the King now)
OP: Oh. Is it good?
Me: Heck yes. I loved these books before they made them into movies.
OP: Oh, you've read them before?
Me: Of course, they're good books.
OP: Seriously? Why would you read a book if you've already read it once? I never read a book more than once.
Me: Well, do you a watch a movie more than once?
OP: Yeah, if it's good.
Me: Well, it's the same for me and books.

I guess I don't see what's so strange about reading and re-reading books because that's what I've grown up doing. I've read Tolkien's trilogy along with The Hobbit and The Silmarillion multiple times. One of my favorite books, Moonfleet, I've probably read 20+ times. Granted I'm not re-reading them every year (with the exception of LOTR...I try to read it at Christmas time every year mainly because that's when my dad would read them aloud to me when I was a child). However, to me, books are like friends; one gets to know the characters so well that even though I've read the book and know what's going to happen, it's almost as though it happens that way not because the author penned it as such, but because there would be no other way for that character to act.

I remember having conversations with a dear friend of mine (and fellow writer) when we were struggling through college. We were both so sick of writing academically and craved the creative pen again. I remember one conversation she told me that she had people in her head begging her to write about them and tell their stories. I've expeirenced this as well. I've written a few short stories where, initially, I tell it the way I want to tell it, but somewhere along the lines it's just not right. It's because before you can write a good book, you have to develop who the characters are so when you put them in various situations it's almost as if they call the shots based on who you created them to be.

I digress. My point is I understand that it doesn't take as much time or brain power to watch a movie or 2, 3, 4 hours of television, but I guess I don't understand how someone cannot enjoy reading a good story unless they're that illiterate that it's a struggle and a challenge. Am I being too cocky? I grew up reading. For a homeschooled, sheltered little Christian girl with no cable, there was really no other option. Plus, my parents laid the foundation by reading to my sister and me when we were small. The only memory I have of how we spent our evenings as a young family is of my dad reading to us followed by "jamming" on his guitar. I remember the Oz books by L. Frank Baum (14 books in the entire series), the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, and my favorite, "The Adventures of Oblio and Enzio," created from my dad's own mind.

Books are friends. Aside from their obvious values, expanding the mind, learning new vocabulary, strengthening reading and comprehension skills, books hold within them the key to the imagination. In the words of the Bookkeeper from The Neverending Story (another amazing book), "Books are no bebebe's."

And with that, I'm done. And I haven't even started on how I think romance novels don't even count as books...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bah Humbug

So, it's been awhile. I'm having thoughts of deleting this actually, but I'm too lazy to do that, so I'll probably just let it sit until the Second Coming.

I finally decorated my little apartment tree this weekend and damn if I didn't do a good job. I mean, I love my parents Christmas tree with all my sister and mine's homemade orniments and tacky popsicle stick picture frames with pictures of me with hideous bangs in a hideous Christmas sweater with a hideous overbite, but I don't have any kids to bedeck my tree with tiny arts and crafts so I decided to go classy and do one of those glamour trees. You know the ones I'm talking about, the ones right out of a Macy's window display. I bought a 4 foot artificial tree last year (I know, I hate them too, but sometimes you gotta bite the bullet) for my studio apartment, but had nothing to decorate it. It came prelit with white lights so that's all it was adorned with. This year, however, I decided to start an orniment collection of my own, so I went to Snow's and bought some gold balls and gold ribbon, a golden star and gold tinsel and went to work on Sunday. I must say, it does quite a bit to brighten the livingroom and even my roommate who is "over" the Christmas decorations is enjoying it.

Despite my meager efforts to bring some Christmas cheer into the day-to-day, it just doesn't feel like Christmas this year. As excited as I have been for December 25 for the past two months, as the date is approaching I'm feeling less and less anticipation. Getting older really sucks sometimes. I'm hoping that going to Buffalo and spending Christmas with my dad's side of the family (since my mom is still in Houston) will help bring that warmth of the holidays back. It will be good to be in my Nonna's house again, it's almost like coming home.

By this time next week, I will be in upstate New York and I will be another year older. Here's to living for a quarter of a century.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Home for the Holidays

Thanksgiving was weird this year. Not necessarily bad, just very, very, different. As the girl who is always adamant that traditions be followed to a tee, it's a wonderment that I didn't freak out that we didn't do the same thing we've done since I can remember: Thanksgiving potluck with family friends, make a pecan pie and mulled cider to bring, watch The Princess Bride.

But, as the years have gone by, the kids have grown up and started families of their own, each going off to their in-laws or starting traditions of their own. While I was in college, I insisted that we do everything exactly as we had always done in years gone by whether that was our tradition of reading Lord of the Rings around the first fire of the season, trimming the tree together, or a myriad of other holiday festivities. There was so much constant transition in my life at the time that I needed an anchor on which to attach myself. But now, so much has changed that I think I would make myself crazy if I tried to keep everything as it always was.

This year, I celebrated Thanksgiving with just my dad, my sister, and my niece. My mom left for her hometown of Houston two weeks ago to be with my grandmother as she goes through multiple tests and surgeries, so she is absent from our table until February which seems strange and wrong. Yet, despite all the changes and upheavals, Thursday was comforting and relaxing. I made the turkey for the first time ever in my life and, not to toot my own horn or anything, but it came out damn good. I spent the night at my parent's house on Wednesday and Thursday and we all had such a grand old time cooking and eating together. We also had a Lord of the Rings marathon over the weekend where we watched all three extended versions of the movie.

Despite not doing what we had done since time began, part of me doesn't really care about following every little tradition as long as I am surrounded by family and love. It's no wonder this is my favorite time of year. Looking ahead to Christmas, I'm already getting excited about the lobster and the calamari and the home-made Italian pizza and calzones, the lights and the caroling and the trimming of the tree. One thing I'm not looking forward to: shopping crowds. Maybe I'll do what I did last year and just get all my shopping done online...hmmm, sounds like a good idea...