Friday, August 24, 2012

Girl Talk, Deep and Easy

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I picked this up at the library, and I loved it, (good thing because I am not so great at staying on top of due dates, so I will be paying a fine for this one). It is good girl talk and deep thinking, but in a lighthearted way.

[Anna Quindlen, you are welcome on my back porch, anytime.]

If you are looking for a book to give to anyone that qualifies as a "woman" this book would probably earn you brownie points. Or, if you are waiting to check it out from the Paris Public Library, I promise to turn it in today! Here are some excerpts:

* * *

[Stuff]

And that's not even counting the stuff in my closet. One day I peered inside and realized it looked like it belonged to someone with multiple personality disorder. The bohemian look, the sharp suits, the frilly dresses. Those days are behind me, and I finally know who and how I'm dressing. I'm dressing a person who has eighteen pairs of black pants and eleven pairs of black pumps. Of course, that number is illusory, since it includes the black pants I never felt looked great but purchased on sale, the pair that never seem to be the right length, and the two pairs that fit funny. Not too big or too small, just funny. Naturally there are two pairs of the shoes that I wear all the time, because they're comfortable, and one pair that I wear on occasion because they are great-looking and my toes don't entirely go numb for at least three hours.

* * *

[Stuff]

It's Thoreau who wrote about this most indelibly and directly: "Simplify, simplify." . . . Tocqueville was more expansive: "Americans cleave to the things of the world as if assured they will never die. They clutch everything but hold nothing fast, and lose grip as they hurry after some new delight."

[Side note -- My God, Tocqueville! That was almost two hundred years ago, and here we still are. Yes, I love this book.]

* * *

[Mortality]

"I hate January. At the beginning of every new year, I get a sinking sensation. All these year's later, sometimes I think it's the lack of sunlight, or the unwavering cold. And then I remember. There are some things that are deep inside me now, chemical, biological: The way my head swivels when a little voice cries: "Mommy!" in a crowded supermarket. The adrenaline rush late on an election night. The anvil weight of January.

[Our mothers both died in January.]

In 'Angels in America,' the brilliant play by Tony Kushner, a play about illness and love and loss and death, there is this valediction: 'But still. Still bless me anyway. I want more life. I can't help myself. I do.' I do."

[I do, too!]

[Faith]

"And there are all those little everyday miracles, too, the fact that a daffodil bulb sprouts a flower year after year, that kittens know how to use a littler box without being taught, that the music of Samuel Barber and Stephen Sondheim and the last sentences of 'A Christmas Carol' make your soul rise and shine. 'God bless us every one,' the book ends. I trust He does."

* * *

Anna Quindlen says this book is about the fact that she is an aging boomer, and she wanted to get the word out that she is loving life, even though she is the age that many people didn't live past when she was born (see posted video chat in next blog). A memorable conversation I had on my back porch this summer was: "If you didn't know how old you were, how old would you be?" I thought it was interesting that everyone gave an age that was younger. Except me -- I didn't answer the question, because I find it too difficult to answer. I do know how old I am. And I am happy with me. And although life isn't perfect, I certainly don't want to have to go back and do it again. I don't want to be younger. I just want to continue to embrace living life to the fullest, I want to continue being thankful for each day that I have. I am going to keep making mistakes and not be perfect, and sometimes have bad days, but I am living! I am living life to the fullest. And that is what "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" is all about.




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