Odds and Ends

August 7th, 2010

It’s a random kind of day, filled with random kinds of thoughts.  Like:

1.  It’s not just my daughter who craves sweets.  It’s also my (male) dog.  He just ate a plateful of brownies.  Don’t worry: I know dogs aren’t supposed to eat chocolate but this dog has been known to wolf down an entire chocolate cake with no ill effects other than a mildly off stomach.  Bad dog, though. Bad dog.  Oh, come over here, you cute yellow lab, you.  I just can’t stay mad at you for long . . .

2. Every once in a while–say every five or ten years–I read a short story that blows me away.  I still remember mulling over O’Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” and Maupassant’s “The Necklace” (the MOST agonizing story ever written) as a fairly young kid, and Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Fancis Macomber” when I was a bit older, moving on and up through O’Connor’s “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” Shaw’s “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses,” and Olsen’s “Tell Me a Riddle” (which is arguably more novella than short story).  But nothing in recent years has blown me away like the two stories I just read, both by Nathan Englander.  “Free Fruit for Young Widows” was the first story of his I’d ever read.  It was in The New Yorker and you can still read it online on their website. Because I thought it was so incredible, I checked his short story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges out of the library.  The whole collection is worth reading but the first story, “The Twenty-Seventh Man” is simply one of the best things I’ve ever read in my life.  Period.  It’s compassionate, harrowing, funny, poignant, horrifying . . .  all in a few pages.  And should be taught in every high school in this country.

3.  Realizing I have clothing in my closet and drawers that I’ve barely worn, I decided to stop buying new and start wearing out.  I’ve made a vow not to buy any new clothing, shoes or accessories for a year, from August 1, 2010 to August 1, 2011.  I would keep this to myself (especially since people get very hostile when you do things like this, as though it’s some kind of comment on THEIR habits which it isn’t, it’s a purely personal thing for me since I can’t seem to control my grabbing when I’m in a big store like Old Navy), except that by making it public I increase the pressure to keep my word, and I have a feeling I’ll need that extra pressure when the holiday season rolls around.

Note (added August 8): my sister just reminded me that I’m not the first member of our family to make this vow.  To learn how it went for her when she tried to give up buying clothing for a year back in 2005, read this.

4.  I have a couple of book signings on the calendar now.  If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now (at the rate my 5 Spot titles keep getting longer, the next one isn’t going to fit on the cover) has an official pub date of September 27, and I’ll be reading at my lovely local Indie Village Books in the Pacific Palisades at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 2, and at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena at 5 pm on October 16.  Please put those dates on the calendar if you live around here and come with a group of friends.  I promise to have wine and cheese!  Well, maybe not at the afternoon one: that might be more of a cookies and milk kind of event . . .

5.  My daughter asked if we could have a picnic today and I rather viciously spat out, “I hate picnics.”  Then I went and apologized and told her we could have a picnic if she really wanted.  But I realized it’s yet another thing I dislike that most people enjoy.  Anyone else hate picnicking?  It’s so nice and clean and climate-controlled inside . . .