The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) is a love story with a hugely inventive twist. Henry has a genetic disorder that causes him to travel back and forth in time, often to people and events that have significance in his life. It is thus that when Clare, as a young girl, meets Henry for the first time, he’s already married to her future self. Future Henry time travels to Clare over and over as she grows up. By the time Henry meets Clare for the first time in “real time,” he doesn’t yet know her, but she’s already known him her whole life. This all leads to interesting moments where each has memories of things that haven’t happened yet for the other. Some of the best moments (both funny and poignant) are when real time Henry “catches up,” through his time travels, to memories Clare has of him from her youth. As the story unfolds, we learn how these episodes of time travel, which Henry cannot predict or control impact both their lives and so thoroughly intertwine them. This leads to some interesting discussions about free will vs. predeterminism. Predeterminism is really the order of the day here, as Henry is unable to use his knowledge to change events of the past or the future.

There are questions here, and a few things that didn’t quite make sense or weren’t quite believable. But in a tale about time travel, it’s necessary to suspend disbelief anyway. The characters are not always likable and there were a few scenes and some crude language that did not sit well with me, but the story was nonetheless original and engrossing. I laughed and I cried, and I couldn’t put it down. Kent even accused me of skipping ahead because I plowed through it so fast!

I give this one an A+ for originality, B/B- for story and character development.

So July 1 is the day in Florida when many new traffic laws go into effect. On the news this morning I saw that among other things, it is now a law to use a turn signal when changing lanes. Wait, what??? Does this mean that all those times I’ve fumed at other drivers (from within the safety of my own car) for cutting me off without signaling, it was me who was wrong?

Do you play the school bus game in your family? We do. The objective is to be the first one to see a school bus. You get a point for each one you call out first. Yelling “SCHOOL BUS!!!!” at the top of your lungs usually does the trick. Maia is an expert at this. She always wins, except when she and Kent cheat on each other (but they call it “cheesing,” not cheating, as in “You’re cheesing me!” I think it’s supposed to be a cross between cheating and teasing, but sometimes it’s safer not to ask). Almost every night they ask each other how many school buses they saw during the day. Neither one wants to be the first to say. Whoever caves first, the other always saw exactly one more. No matter what. It’s hilarious.

I’m the big loser in this game. Even Noah beats me now at seeing school buses. But I’m not telling this story to gain sympathy for my school bus spotting deficiencies. I’m leading up to a funny story that happened in the car this morning. Maia, as usual, spotted a school bus long before it registered on my aging brain. I told her she had an “eagle eye,” and then explained to her what that meant. So she is very proud of herself for having eagle eyes, and even makes up a little song about it. And she wants to know if her friend, at whose house I am about to drop her, has eagle eyes too. She then goes on to tell me that she uses her left eagle eye to see things on her left side and her right eagle eye to see things on her right, but she doesn’t know which eagle eye she uses to see things in the middle. That just struck me as really funny because I pictured a Cyclops eye in the middle of her forehead. Just my little amusement for the day.

I took my kids to the library last week and as we were going to the check-out counter, I happened to see Where the Red Fern Grows (Wilson Rawls) on display. It’s a classic old favorite which occupies a very tender spot in my heart—it’s the first book I ever cried over. And I mean I bawled. I am a female who happens to be a cat lover, but this story of a boy and his hunting dogs tore me apart inside, even as a kid. I hadn’t read it in years, so I picked it up on a whim. By the time I finished the heartwarming tale of Billy and his beloved, loyal dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, I was blubbering like a baby all over again, every bit as much as I did the first time I read it at the tender age of 11 or 12.

Billy’s pure love for his dogs and his single-minded determination to pursue his hunting dreams drive this beautifully written story to its five-hanky conclusion. It doesn’t matter that it is technically a children’s book. It’s a universal story of love and loss and realizing your dreams. Just make sure to have a box of Kleenex handy. I guarantee you will need it.

On my daily commute to the 18th floor of my building (the top floor reached by the elevators) I am invariably asked by some curious individual what it’s like on the top floor. What they usually don’t know is that the elevator lies. 18 is not the top. There is also a secret 19th floor. It’s not really a secret, but it’s only accessible from within our office suite, which commands both floors.

In any case, there are no special perks to being at the top. Sure, the view is great and impressive for our visitors, but who has time to admire it? Not me. Two walls of my office are solid windows, yet I remain oblivious. I usually don’t even realize when it is raining unless someone points it out to me. I have a lovely view of two downtown lakes that I rarely look at. But I’m still secretly mad that a new tower is about to be constructed which will partially block the view of one of those lakes.

The ledge outside one window is a common landing spot for various species of avian wildlife. I’ve seen eagles, vultures, and other birds that I can’t identify. On occasion an especially dumb one will see its reflection in the window and try to attack itself. But more often I am startled by the window washers throwing their ropes and pulleys down from above. That stuff crashing into the window is LOUD! And because one of the windows is behind me, I can see the reflection in my computer screen. More than once I have thought someone had snuck into my office behind me when it was just the window washers walking around on the ledge outside.

The one and only huge perk of my particular office location is that I have the best view in the place of traffic on the interstate. This is extremely handy and makes me pretty popular as 5 p.m. approaches! So I have no real reason for telling this stuff except that once again this morning, someone asked in the elevator.

This week’s writing prompt from Writer’s Digest.

Writing Prompt for 6/28/05:

You can’t wait for your class reunion so you can tell all of your old school chums about what?

My Response:

This is hilarious. My next class reunion isn’t for three years, but I’ve already told quite a few of my classmates everything there is to know, thanks to our class of ’88 message board. Most importantly, although still introverted, I think I’ve proved that I’m no longer painfully shy and that perhaps I would have been worth talking to, had I tried harder back then to focus on the things I had in common with people instead of being worried about the things I didn’t.

So instead I’ll use this opportunity to wax philosophic on the joys of getting reacquainted with those who knew me when. Because of that message board, I have gotten to know former classmates much better than I ever did when I went to school with them, and in a way that I don’t think would have been possible had I simply run into them at a reunion. I’m quite impressed with the great things my classmates are doing, in big ways and small. And I’m amazed at how easy it’s been to jump into conversations like no time has passed at all. That’s an impressive feat for the girl who was “Most Shy.”

For certain, having participated in the message board for the last few months will make the 20th reunion a whole different experience for me than it would have been otherwise. These are people that I grew up with, even if I didn’t know them all well, and it only took me 17 years to appreciate that shared history. It’s been a truly eye opening experience and has taught me some things that I want to impart to my kids about their own self worth, when they reach that age.

Things are quieter around the message board these days as some of the initial fixation has worn off. It is perhaps not quite so addictive, but still lots of fun. And even if it ultimately goes bust (which I hope it does not), it will always hold a special place in my heart because of the individual new and renewed friendships that have developed. Who knew I would turn out to be such a sentimentalist?

…tar paper alone does not an adequate roof make. We sprung two new leaks last night. Another one in the garage to join the 7 or 8 that are already there, and one in the LIVING ROOM! My apologies to anyone who is reading this for blogging about something so trivial, but I am frustrated and must rant. It figures this would happen during one of the wettest Junes on record.

Drive, people, DRIVE!

It’s only a little rain, fer cryin’ out loud. Barely enough drizzle to bother with the wipers. Yet it easily adds at least 20 minutes to my commute because people forget how to DRIVE when it rains. This is Florida, we get rain every afternoon in the summer. What’s so hard??

In other rain-related news, the roofers began work on our roof today. (Check here for more on that story.) Unfortunately, they only got as far as getting the new tar paper down before this afternoon’s rain set in. No shingles. Hopefully that’s enough to keep us dry for the next few days as there is an 80% chance of rain tomorrow.

In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, rain is good because: (1) it’s an excellent excuse to curl up with a good book, (2) it means we don’t have to water the lawn, and (3) I just like the way it sounds.

Book review: The Broker

If you are looking for a suspenseful spy novel, this is not it. The Broker (John Grisham) starts off intriguingly enough, with CIA pressure on a departing president to issue a full pardon for former lawyer and power broker Joel Backman. Backman, it seems, holds secrets to a mysterious and powerful satellite surveillance system whose origin is in question. He was hired by those who discovered the satellites (and who developed software to manipulate then) to sell their program to the highest bidder. When the government began investigating and others who were involved in the scheme turned up dead, Backman pled guilty to federal charges of possessing classified military information. Now, six years later (and fourteen years early), the CIA hopes that by releasing Backman and sitting back to watch who ultimately kills him, they will learn more about the source of the satellites, or at the very least, who Backman tried to sell his secrets to. Backman is released in the middle of the night and smuggled into Italy with a new identity, supposedly for his protection, though his whereabouts will eventually be leaked.

The problem begins in Italy. The story essentially stops; it’s hardly action-packed. There are long walks, sightseeing, Italian tutoring sessions, visits to cafes, and long Italian meals. But one typically reads Grisham for suspense or drama, and it was missing here. I could have skipped entire chapters without losing any of the plot. There are subplots regarding Backman’s communications with his son and a supposed romance with one of his Italian tutors, but I didn’t buy either. In fact, I somehow missed the romance aspect altogether. I can only assume that we are supposed to believe it was a romance, since at the end of the novel Backman calls her “special” and we learn that he plans to return to Bologna to see her. Perhaps this is because I never felt invested in any of the characters. There was no character development to speak of, and I’m not even sure why some of the characters were there.

There were other subplots and loose ends that were never tied up. What of the Chinese assassin? What of the cash for pardon scandal? These threads went nowhere and were not resolved, or even addressed at all, in the pat ending.

There are shades here of earlier Grisham works. He’s done the “man (or woman) on the run” bit before, in novels like The Partner and The Pelican Brief. I don’t believe this story was as well executed as either of those. I used to love Grisham and have read nearly everything of his. The Broker was a fun story and I had no trouble finishing it, but it’s not one of his best. I can’t say that I’d strongly recommend this one, especially if you are looking for something in the action and suspense genre. As a more leisurely story, it’s a pleasant enough read.

Next Blog

Curiosity finally got the better of me, so tonight I tried playing around with the “Next Blog” feature (handily located at the top of this page) to see if I could find anything interesting to read in the blogosphere. Mostly what I found was advertising, spam, and foreign languages. Plus a little porn (yikes!) and a few political blogs, which don’t interest me at all. I also saw blogs devoted to hobbies, families, religion, and some very excruciatingly detailed accounts of daily activities, mostly from students and young single people. You do NOT want to know what is in the heads of some people—some of it is way too personal and I moved on quickly for fear of violating the privacy of total strangers. I’m not really sure what I was looking for, but I didn’t find it. It’s interesting to see what some people write about, but I had to click through so much junk to find anything reasonably witty or well-written that I’m not likely to try it again any time soon. I’ll just keep reading the blogs of friends and writing here in my own little corner of the Internet, even if I am the only one who is interested in what I have to say.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »