I received this book for review consideration from the publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers. All opinions are my own.
Setting Free the Kites Written byAlex George Published byPenguin on February 21st 2017
Genres:Fiction, Literary Pages: 336
Format:ARC Source: publisher, via Shelf Awareness for Readers
This post contains affiliate links to Indiebound.org. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.
From the author of the "lyrical and compelling" (USA Today) novel A Good American comes a powerful story of two friends and the unintended consequences of friendship, loss, and hope. For Robert Carter, life in his coastal Maine hometown is comfortably predictable. But in 1976, on his first day of eighth grade, he meets Nathan Tilly, who changes everything. Nathan is confident, fearless, impetuous--and fascinated by kites and flying. Robert and Nathan's budding friendship is forged in the crucible of two family tragedies, and as the boys struggle to come to terms with loss, they take summer jobs at the local rundown amusement park. It's there that Nathan's boundless capacity for optimism threatens to overwhelm them both, and where they learn some harsh truths about family, desire, and revenge. Unforgettable and heart-breaking, Setting Free the Kites is a poignant and moving exploration of the pain, joy, and glories of young friendship.
A version of this review was previously published in Shelf Awareness for Readers (March 14, 2017). The publisher provided an advance reader copy (ARC) for review consideration, and Shelf Awareness paid for the review they received and published. All opinions are my own.
SETTING FREE THE KITES by Alex George
Setting Free the Kites by Alex George is a moving novel of friendship, family, loss and reconciliation.
Nathan Tilly and his parents arrive in Haverford, Maine, in the autumn of 1976, following Mr. Tilly’s whimsical decision to buy a lobster boat. Robert Carter’s family owns Fun-a-Lot, the amusement park where nearly every teenager in town has a summer job. Their friendship begins with unexpected acts of kindness and violence. On the first day of school, Nathan rescues Robert from the eighth-grade bully. Days later, Robert and Nathan witness the terrible kite-flying accident that kills both Mr. Tilly and Nathan’s pet mongoose.
Nathan’s life is changed by loss, but Robert’s life has been defined by the expectation of it. His brother Liam is terminally ill, and their parents’ preoccupation with their older son’s condition has made the younger one feel like his family’s afterthought. Nathan is adventurous and optimistic despite his losses, while Robert’s have made him more cautious and reserved. Their personalities balance each other, and they are nearly inseparable as they enter high school and join the summer staff at Fun-a-Lot. They will work together at the amusement park for two summers and will find that a lot of that time will not be a lot of fun at all.
Setting Free the Kites is told from Robert’s adult perspective as he looks back on three years of his youth. So much happens during those years that one might feel like George was piling it on if not for the humor and genuine feeling he shows his characters. At times the novel feels like toned-down John Irving; that’s a compliment, and not a backhanded one. George has crafted an emotionally resonant story with a blend of comedy and tragedy that mirrors the friendship it describes.
THE 3 R’s BLOG turned ten years old on March 16th!
I missed posting that day, but I couldn’t let that milestone go by with no comment whatsoever.
When I started this thing, all I intended to do was set up a place to record my thoughts about the books I read. By early 2007, more and more websites were incorporating, or morphing into, blogs. It looked easy enough to start one, and a reading journal seemed like a good excuse to do it.
As I started learning more about blogging and the concept of “niche,” I decided to look around for others who might also be writing about their reading.
I had no idea what an adventure it would be. I certainly had no inkling I’d still be on this path ten years later. And while I’m spending less time walking it lately, I have no intention of leaving it entirely.
If I hadn’t become a blogger, I might not be the person I am right now.
5 Ways That 10 Years of Blogging Has Changed My Life
While I may not read as many books as I once did or finish them as quickly, I am a more discerning and intentional reader.
I’ve become more effective at expressing myself in writing–and sometimes, that helps me be a better speaker, too.
Being a more confident writer has made me a more outgoing person online…and that’s slowly infiltrating my offline life, too.
I’ve been self-publishing in my own space for a decade, and that’s led to opportunities to publish in other spaces (sometimes even for real money!)
My world is bigger. I’ve learned new things and new perspectives, and I’ve traveled to new places. And the best part is that there are people I count as friends across the country and around the world.
I’ve seen many bloggers come and go over the past decade. There are some I still miss, and others I’m keeping up with elsewhere. (My decade of blogging has been marked by the number of times one social-media outlet or another almost killed the whole thing, but for now, it seems we’ve learned to coexist.)
That said, I’m happiest when I look around and see how many of my blogging friends are still here. I’m not the only one who shows up less often, but eight and nine and ten and eleven (or even more!) years on, we keep coming around.
Thank you for being on this adventure with me! I’d probably still be doing this even if you weren’t, but I wouldn’t love it as much–it’s so much better because you are.
Currently: March 2017
Reading: Mostly work-related emails, documents, and spreadsheets
‘Riting: Mostly work-related emails, documents, and spreadsheets
Exaggerating: Some, but not as much as you might think
I’ve been in my new job for one month as of today, It’s kicking my butt slightly less some days, but the overwhelm is still running high. I spend less time at my desk than I did in my old job. There’s more interacting with people and less with a monitor, and the impact of that on my blogging is obvious. I’m also putting in more work hours generally, which leaves less time–and brainpower–for non-work-related reading and writing.
That said, I’ve finished two audiobooks in the past month:
The Girls by Emma Cline, read by Cady McClain, and
The Guineveres by Sarah Domet, read by Erin Bennett
Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man's relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother--his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.
BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah: Reading Ahead of a Readalong
I gave up watching The Daily Show once (my beloved) Jon Stewart left his role as host. I’ve read that his successor Trevor Noah has been coming into his own as host after a bumpy start, and I’ve seen Noah as a guest on talk shows and found him rather appealing. But I haven’t gone back to DTS, and I might not have even noticed Noah’s memoir Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood.
Noah broke through as a stand-up comic, and if you intend to read Born a Crime, I highly recommend you listen to him read it to you; his performance is terrific. However, I need to say this: many of the stories he has to tell are not all that funny.
BORN A CRIME, Growing Up Under and After Apartheid
Trevor Noah was born in 1984, several years before South Africa’s institutionalized system of racial segregation ended. His mother was Black, from the Xhosa tribe; his father was White, a Swiss expatriate. It was illegal for them to be together at all, let alone have a child. But Patricia Noah wanted to have a kid, and she wasn’t intimidated by the prospect of raising a mixed-race one on her own.
Trevor wasn’t just “a crime” by birth; he was a misfit within South Africa’s racial classifications. “Biracial” was illegal and therefore didn’t officially exist. Raised by a Black mother, he self-identified as Black but was questioned about his light skin tone. He looked “Coloured” but didn’t come from the colonial history of race-mixing that predated apartheid. He wasn’t fully White, and he was clearly not “Indian” (Asian).
Noah lived under apartheid for the first ten years of his life, until it ended in 1994 with the formation of a democratic South African government. His background gives him a unique perspective on race and society. His “stories from a South African childhood” include plenty of humor and mischief, but there’s no shortage of struggle, either. The family was often desperately poor and moved frequently.
Born a Crime is about growing up in a particular place in a time of great change. I was intrigued by the compare-and-contrast between South African and American cultural and racial attitudes. But it’s also the story of a mother and son. With Trevor and Patricia Noah, the personal resonates even more strongly than the political.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be a regular Daily Show viewer again, but I’m so glad I read Born a Crime.
Noah had a very religious childhood, attending three churches every Sunday.
He was raised speaking English as his first language.
This was a deliberate choice from his Xhosa mother, to give him more opportunities later in life.
His mother chose the name Trevor specifically because it had no meaning in South Africa, nor any biblical reference. “It’s just a name. My mother wanted her child beholden to no fate.”
He became a profitable businessman in high school. This meant he floated around his high school like a social butterfly, mixing with different groups without ever being fully included in their circles
He was arrested as a teenager and spent a week in jail. When he returned home, he tried to pretend that he’d simply been staying with a friend. In time, he realized that his mother had been the one to hire his lawyer and pay his bail.
I was nine years old when my mother threw me out of a moving car. It happened on a Sunday. I know it was on a Sunday because we were coming home from church, and every Sunday in my childhood meant church. We never missed church. My mother was—and still is— a deeply religious woman. Very Christian. Like indigenous peoples around the world, black South Africans adopted the religion of our colonizers. By “adopt” I mean it was forced on us. The white man was quite stern with the native. “You need to pray to Jesus,” he said. “Jesus will save you.” To which the native replied, “Well, we do need to be saved—saved from you, but that’s beside the point. So let’s give this Jesus thing a shot.”
My whole family is religious, but where my mother was Team Jesus all the way, my grandmother balanced her Christian faith with the traditional Xhosa beliefs she’d grown up with, communicating with the spirits of our ancestors. For a long time I didn’t understand why so many black people had abandoned their indigenous faith for Christianity. But the more we went to church and the longer I sat in those pews the more I learned about how Christianity works: If you’re Native American and you pray to the wolves, you’re a savage. If you’re African and you pray to your ancestors, you’re a primitive. But when white people pray to a guy who turns water into wine, well, that’s just common sense.
Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett's mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.
"All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we'd taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season."
It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother's recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor's son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it's not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.
In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothersasks whether a "what if" can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.
THE MOTHERS by Brit Bennett: Mothers and Daughters
What’s it about? The Mothers by Brit Bennett is a debut novel about mothers and daughters and community. “The Mothers”–the elderly women who form the backbone of Upper Room Chapel in Oceanside, California–represent the community. Their voices frame the story of two young women navigating the world after mother loss.The Mothers is about secrets–keeping them and sharing them–and how either course of action impacts relationships. It’s a story of the choices women face when motherhood arrives. And so it’s about CHOICE—-the debate over a woman’s right to it and the personal impact of making it.
Why did I read it? The Motherswas one of 2016’s most buzzy fiction debuts. That caught my attention, as did the Southern California setting. The novel’s premise is nothing too unusual for literary fiction. However, I haven’t often seen it filtered through a Black perspective, and I was curious. (That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been happening, of course, which is why I’ve been working on broadening my reading.)
THE MOTHERS And the Choices
What worked for me? Bennett shifts the narrative perspectives between three characters over the course of a decade.
Nadia Turner remains haunted by the choice she made at 17 to remain on her college-bound path out of Oceanside. Meanwhile, her friend Aubrey Evans struggles to feel rooted in their church community and her relationship with Luke Sheppard, the pastor’s son. And Luke and Nadia have a history they’d both rather keep quiet. I was more invested in the women, but I was impressed by how well Bennett develops all of them. She has a good ear for dialogue and a strong feel for the emotional complexities between women.
I also appreciated how The Mothers filters some big issues–loyalty, morality, questions of privilege and class–through one Black church community.
What wasn’t so great? I read The Mothersin audio, and while I thought Adenrele Ojo’s narration was fine, nothing about the performance really stood out for me. Having said that, I wouldn’t have minded if the book was longer–I’d have liked more of this story!
Recommended? Yes! And not just by me:
THE MOTHERS: Book Thoughts From Other Places
From Vogue: “The Mothers begins with Nadia’s abortion, an experience often missing from consideration in our culture’s stories about women or shorthanded as a tragic plot point. Here, it’s given the emotional resonance it deserves, setting the scene for a book about growing up amid absences, both emotional and cultural. At the same time, it demolishes the stereotype of absentee African-American fathers; Nadia’s father is both present and, like all of the novel’s characters, complexly human. The novel finds its focus in the unlikely friendship that develops between Nadia and another motherless girl, Aubrey, the sweet to Nadia’s spiky—and in the many ways in which women nurture, and sometimes betray, one another.”
From The Washington Post: “Bennett doesn’t ignore the broader racial situation in the United States. Her characters talk about the pain of hoping an unborn baby is a girl. ‘Black boys are target practice,’ one says. ‘At least black girls got a chance.’ They also acknowledge the problems in their community, including drugs, alcohol and domestic abuse. Some of the most simultaneously funny and painful sections involve the church mothers talking about men, and in those conversations we see resignation and rage about how societal ills have poisoned gender roles. The genius of The Mothers is how Bennett uses those feelings in service to a story that could take place in any part of American society.”
In the darkness of the club, you could be alone with your grief. Her father had flung himself into Upper Room. He went to both services on Sunday mornings, to Wednesday night Bible study, to Thursday night choir practice although he did not sing, although practices were closed but nobody had the heart to turn him away. Her father propped his sadness on a pew, but she put her sad in places no one could see.
The bartender shrugged at her fake ID and mixed her a drink and she sat in dark corners, sipping rum-and-Cokes and watching women with beat bodies spin on stage. Never the skinny, young girls—the club saved them for weekends or nights—just older women thinking about grocery lists and child care, their bodies stretched and pitted from age. Her mother would’ve been horrified at the thought—her in a strip club, in the light of day—but Nadia stayed, sipping the watery drinks slowly.
I had hoped to get Readings for the Resistance, February 2017 (Part 2) up last week, but job transitioning took precedence. (On that note, today is officially my first day as Chief Financial Officer at Aviva Family and Childen’s Services.) The delay just gave me more time to collect links!
“The greatest tragedy right now is that you believe that we are the enemy or that we believe thatyouare the enemy. We don’t believe that you are; nor is faith, family, security, safety, or whatever you treasure because chances are we probably treasure it too.That’s how Humanity works. Hatred is the enemy, bigotry is the enemy, injustice is the enemy, isolation is the enemy, inequality is the enemy. It is againstthesethings that we resist, in whatever form they take and from wherever they originate and whatever religious or political affiliation conceives them.”
Some of you may have already seen this on social media, but I had some big news last week:
After nearly 14 years as Controller with Aviva Family and Children’s Services, I’m excited to share the news that I am moving up into the role of Chief Financial Officer as of February 20!
I’ll officially start as Interim CFO, transitioning into my new responsibilities as I start handing off my current ones. I am grateful for this opportunity and hopeful that I’ll rise to it.
Wish me luck, y’all!
The CFO I’ve worked with for over eleven years resigned a few weeks ago to move to a similar position with another agency, and I saw a “now or never” opportunity. I’m part of the executive team now. I’ll be doing less number-crunching, but I’m trading that for a lot more meetings! And I’ll have to put tasks I’ve done comfortably and competently into the hands of other people. I’m excited and apprehensive about making this change.
At least in the short term, the change in the job is also going to mean changes for the blog, too.
The Blog, It Is A-Changin’….
I’m just over a month away from marking the tenth birthday of The 3 R’s Blog, and I do NOT intend for that to be its last! However, I think it’s going to be a quieter place, at least for the next several months.
The biggest change right now is that the Readings for the Resistance roundup I’ll be posting later this week will probably be the last one for awhile. I’m really enjoying putting it together, but it requires a lot of online reading to prepare it and a couple of hours to compile it. I’ve been used to having quiet time at my desk to read between tasks, but I think that’s going to change in a hurry. I could spend time catching up on evenings and weekends, of course, but I also want time for other reading…not to mention things that aren’t reading. Being able to browse and skim online reading without an agenda will take some pressure off.
Other content will appear when I have time to create it. That’s a pretty non-committal commitment, but it’s all I want to make until I have a better idea what my new normal looks like.
Reading, ‘Riting, and…Well, You Know
Even with the new full-time job, I still want to keep my “one-review-a-month” Shelf Awareness job. I have a March review due to them this week. Meanwhile, I’m two reviews behind here on the blog, but I’m trying not to fall further back. I didn’t get very far with any offline reading last week and I’m between audiobooks, so I have some room to catch up. This is my reading journal, and I have no intention of changing that!
What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump’s America: essays(ebook)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund: fiction (galley, pub date January 2017
A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman: memoir (galley, pub date February 2917)
Read and Not Yet Reviewed:
The Mothers by Brit Bennett(audio)
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (audio)
And just because I think it’s been a while, here’s a gratuitous Winchester photo!
Today’s Agenda: We may bite the bullet and tackle our income taxes. And/or see The LEGO Batman Movie. What are you up to this weekend?
The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.
When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.
With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.
Carrie Fisher was on tour promoting her last book, The Princess Diarist, when she suffered the cardiac episode that led to her death. This was her third memoir, built around the journal she kept while filming the original Star Wars. I started listening to the audiobook in early December. I set it aside when Bruce Springsteen’s memoir came along. At the time, I wasn’t sure I’d go back and finish it. Then Carrie Fisher died. I not only returned to finish The Princess Diarist, I bought her two earlier memoirs and read them too.
Tales from Carrie Fisher’s Hollywood
Fisher’s first memoir, Wishful Drinking, grew out of her one-woman show of the same name. It was Fisher’s first foray into nonfiction after nearly two decades as a novelist and screenwriter. After years of struggling with bipolar disorder and addiction, she started electroconvulsive therapy (shock treatment). ECT helped Fisher’s mental health but hurt her memory, inspiring her to start documenting. Perhaps because it began as a performance piece, Wishful Drinking is largely anecdotal and occasionally repetitive. It’s also a very funny, very specific account of growing up in Hollywood and unexpectedly becoming the face of one of the best-known characters in movie history.
Fisher’s second memoir, Shockaholic, covers some of the same ground as Wishful Drinking, but it goes deeper. It’s still funny, but it’s more revealing and feels emotionally braver. Reading all of these books in audio, I was struck by the literal difference in Fisher’s voice between recording Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic. This was probably another effect of ECT. On her first memoir, she still sounded like Princess Leia, just older. By the second, her voice had acquired the rasp and change in pitch familiar from her talk-show appearances during the last few years.
The Princess Diarist
Both of Fisher’s earlier memoirs gave space to Star Wars, of course, but it’s the focus of her last one. Fisher was just 19 when she was cast as Princess Leia and went to England to spend three months making the movie that would change pop culture forever. (It’s probably a good thing no one involved had any idea, going in, that this would happen.) She was already a journaler by then, so naturally, she kept a diary during the shoot. She found the long-forgotten notebook in a box a couple of years ago. It became the basis for The Princess Diarist, but it makes up a surprisingly small portion of the book.
And that may be just as well. The diary is a 19-year-old’s journal, complete with poetry. It’s short on behind-the-scenes details from the set. (If that’s your thing, look to another Cary and his Inconceivable Tales From the Making of “The Princess Bride”.) However, it’s rich in the emotional experiences and impressions of a young woman having an affair with her older married co-star. Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd reads the diary on the audiobook; her younger voice is more appropriate to the material than Fisher’s own.
Fisher fleshes out the diary in the chapters leading up to it and follows it with reflections on how Star Wars changed her life. In some ways, The Princess Diarist is, in some ways, the story of Fisher’s relationship with Princess Leia. She will appear in that role for the final time in Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi(December 2017).
Carrie Fisher was an actor and a writer born and raised in Hollywood, She was a sharp observer and a fearless truth-teller, She died suddenly, and too soon, on December 27, 2016. For two-thirds of her life, she was a princess–and as a princess, she will live on as an icon.
I liked Carrie Fisher and I loved Princess Leia. I’ll miss them both. If you’d like to spend a little more time with them, all three of Fisher’s memoirs are quick reads, and you should let her read them all to you in audiobook.
When 30-year-old Dawn reads Miranda’s email, she sees red. People have always told Dawn she’s beautiful, and she just hopes they don’t see beneath—to how she grew up, to what she’s always tried to outrun. She revels in her getaways with her perfect (maybe too perfect) husband, the occasional long weekend in luxurious homes, temporarily inhabiting other people’s privileged lives. Miranda’s email strikes a nerve, with its lying intimation that Dawn is so dirty you need to throw out her sheets.
57-year-old Miranda thought she’d seen it all, but she can’t believe her eyes when she reads Dawn’s review. She’s a doctor’s wife but she needs that rental money, desperately. People might think her life is privileged, but they don’t know what’s really going on. They don’t know about her son. She won’t take this threat to her livelihood—to her very life—lying down.
Two very different women with this in common: Each harbors her own secret, her own reason why she can’t just let this go. Neither can yield, not before they’ve dredged up all that’s hidden, even if it has the power to shatter all they’ve built.
This is not over.
This is so not over.
THIS IS NOT OVER by Holly Brown explores the risks on both sides of the transaction when one stranger rents her home to another.
Despite a local law against short-term rentals, Miranda has been listing her parents’ old Santa Monica beach house on Getaway.com, and she had no trouble with any of her guests before Dawn and Rob. The couple, for their part, has been enjoying their stays in other people’s luxurious homes and never had problems with a host until now.
When Miranda withholds Dawn’s deposit due to damages that Dawn swears she didn’t cause, the accusation triggers her insecurities and raises her defenses. Defensiveness puts Dawn on the attack. She posts a negative review of Miranda and the property on Getaway.com; then it’s Miranda’s turn to defend herself, pressuring Dawn to take it down. Miranda needs good reviews to keep the rental occupied, and she needs it occupied so she can continue secretly funneling money to her son, a drug addict who swears he’s clean but whose father has refused to support him anymore.
Switching perspective back and forth between Dawn and Miranda, Brown gradually reveals elements of their personal histories that give context to the escalating battle between them. Both women are trying to keep troubled pasts under wraps, but as the dispute over the rental house gets under their skins, their self-protective images start coming apart. This Is Not Over also comes apart a bit in the end, but it’s a suspenseful psychological drama along the way–one that might make you think twice about lining up that online rental for your next vacation.
“Please note: It is April 23, 2014. You’ll have your deposit within seven business days, just like it says on Getaway.com. I’ve put through a refund to your credit card for the full amount, minus $200 to replace the sheets. I couldn’t get the stain out despite professional laundering and bleaching, and it was rather large (gray, about the size and shape of a typical housecat, though the house rental didn’t allow pets.) That’s neither here nor there. At any rate, I already told you about this.
That’s it, the entire e-mail. No Dear Dawn or I’m sorry you had to stalk me to get your deposit or Sincerely or All the best. Just Miranda. And does she really think I don’t know today’s date?
I haven’t felt anger like this in I don’t know how long. No, I know how long. Since before Rob. He’s the antidote for all my inadequacies. I’m good enough because I have him in my life. Because I’m the woman he loves. I’m that woman now.
Stop reading. Stop rereading.
But I can’t.
I’m sitting at my battle-scarred kitchen table, staring at the screen of my five-year-old laptop in my one-bedroom apartment in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in Oakland (soon we’ll be priced out), and I’ve been struck dumb. A stain the size and shape of a housecat? Like my husband and I are, collectively, Pigpen from Peanuts, and we leave a cloud of ash in our wake?
I’m an honorable (enough) person, and for sure, Rob is. If we’d ruined Miranda’s sheets, we would’ve owned up to it. I would’ve contacted her myself, apologized profusely and said, “Take my deposit, please.” No, I would have bleached the sheets, and if that hadn’t worked, I would have run out to the nearest Target in a state of abject mortification and bought a new set (because those were not $200 sheets, I promise you that.)
I have several different, but not opposing, goals for these “Readings for the Resistance” roundups. Some of the posts and articles I’ll share are practical–they advise or offer support. Some are analytical–they provide background and context for recent events. They’re stories I found thought-provoking, or provocative (not necessarily the same thing), or perspective-shifting.
I collect more links over the course of a week than I include in these posts. And there are links I don’t save for these posts at all–if they’re addressing what’s literally the “news of the day,” they go out on social media and don’t wait for this.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that things have only been like this for a little over two weeks.
Because it’s important to try to understand who we’re dealing with…
“We’re worried that the discrimination, lies, violence, racism, misogyny, fascism, overstepping authority, embarrassing statements, threats, bans, white supremacy, dismantling the system, and belligerence are the New Normal. They’re not, though. They’re the New Temporary. As the New Temporary they’re truly disgusting, but they’ll only become the New Normal if we stop fighting and working and pushing as hard as we can.
“The real New Normal here is who we’re becoming in the middle of this.
“Who are you now that you weren’t on November 7? I bet you have more layers, more resilience, more compassion, more strength, and better boundaries now than you did then.”
The “Readings for the Resistance” link roundup will be a recurring feature here at The 3 R’s Blog for as long as conditions make it necessary. It may be a while, folks. My Facebook feed is even more political now than it was before the election. This is definitely not normal.
“No one thinks Bane is the hero of Batman stories. No one watches The Dark Knight Rises and thinks Hey, they should let that Bane guy be in charge for a while. I’m sure he totally has Gotham’s best interests at heart. No! They see him for the unstable villain he is, see through his clear manipulation, and root for Batman to take him down.
“Yet when Trump uses Bane’s words and evokes the same feelings…yay? What a strong leader?”