The Do-Over

I believe there are an infinite number of times you can start over and I also believe we aren’t told that enough. 

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When we were kids we were all well acquainted with the “do-over.”  We used the words as a noun and all of us knew exactly what it meant.  Simply put, it meant the event was an outlier and there would be no consequences for failure. 

If the kick ball got stuck in the tree branches, we all just yelled out, “do-over,” and the ball was retrieved and the kicker got another chance.  We didn’t take the ball getting stuck in the tree as any real reflection of the players ability nor did we think the game needed to be disrupted because of this one moment.

We all had such wisdom back then. 

But then someone always came along who wanted to discredit the “do-over.” 

This test is not a do-over!

You can’t just have a do-over whenever something doesn’t work out!

You have damaged our relationship and I won’t let you have a do-over!

This is real life!  There are no do-over’s!

Bullshit.

I argue that in every situation there is an opportunity for a do-over.  Remember, a do-over was an outlier, something that was not deliberate and hey, a lot of stuff just happens.

I’m not talking about the kid who tries to throw the ball when its kick ball or picks it up and runs with it to keep it away from others.  A do-over has nothing to do with  the person who runs and gets the adult when they feel they are being slighted by the rules or the neighbor who gleefully takes the ball when it lands in their yard and won’t give it back.

A do-over is just one of those things that happens now and again.

Here are a few examples from my own life when I should have acknowledged the “do-over” potential,….

My husband who is wonderful and loves me dearly, has a busy month and forgets my birthday. 

My son, who works and goes to school, knocks over an open bottle of laundry soap as he rushes to get to class. 

My mother, who promised me we would do lunch, makes plans with others instead. 

My good friend borrows my platter and breaks it. 

To my utter dismay I admit after I got over the initial anger, I held grudges and often brought up the issue to the other person involved.  I did not acknowledge the “do-over” potential. 

Jobs can be “do-overs,” and I have had some of those also.  Granted those are tougher not only to recognize, but to get over because it’s all tied up with money or status or identity or pride.

I had a job once that I really didn’t like, but I was fortunate to have a boss who believed in the power of the “do-over.”  She asked me if I even liked the job as she was going over how badly I was doing the job.  I showed some uncommon good sense and told her point blank I hated it and then we both agreed it was best to part ways.  But she recognized the skills I had were simply not meshing with the job and she ended up giving me a great recommendation which helped me move onto a new job that I love.

That is still one of my most beloved “do-over” moments. 

There should be more relationship “do-overs.”  Every had the lover that you just all the sudden didn’t love anymore.Don’t you wish you could just yell, “Do-over!”  and then you could both agree to never see each other again with no hard feelings.  Or the friendship when both of you realize you really only share one interest together and now that the Chopped – Barbecue-Cheese-Kids- Championship Marathon is over, you could apply the “do-over” principle, no harm done.

There are some who say the whole experience of life can also be a “do-over.”

If you don’t get it right this time around, don’t worry you will get another chance to try again. reincarnation10

My plea to you, dear friend, is to look out on your life today and everyday and recognize your “do-over” moments.

 Laugh while you run to get that ball down from the tree and feel the joy of the moment when you kick it back into play. 

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Taylor Swift’s Brilliant Take on Double Knavery

Good morning, all!

I’ve been binge watching Taylor Swift’s new video, Look What You Made Me Do, and  sure I’m not alone in drawing some Shakespearian parallels.

Like many of you, after seeing the video, I immediately exclaimed, “Iago!  There you are, you little mischief maker, you!”

For those of you poor unfortunate souls who have not had time yet to read all of Will’s work- a brief note on who Iago is….Iago puppetmaster

Iago is the villain in the play Othello and he’s a great villain.  He’s creepy and smart and vicious and he’s always speaking to the audience as if we are his squad.  And he owns his own evil which makes him one of the best villains of all time.

Very early on he says flat out, “I hate the Moor.”  He doesn’t say, “I’m upset by the Moor or  I strongly dislike the Moor or I’m feeling some negativity related to the Moor.”

No, no! Not our man, Iago.

I hate the moor

 

So he decides to destroy his enemy and several others along the way.

(The rest of the play is wonderful, but you can find that out on your own, so I won’t tarry around in the explanations of sub plots and motivations.  Yes, I used the word, tarry- get over it.)

Very early on in the video, Ms. Swift, sings, “And I don’t like you.”  The words may not be as tough as Iago’s, but the graveyard imagery speaks more of hate than dislike. 

And then when she’s sitting on that throne of snakes! Wow!15-taylor-swift-look-what-you-made-me-do-screenshot-2017-billboard-1548

Doesn’t that just scream, “How am I a villain?”

That scene in the video is Taylor-made(get it 🙂 ) for Iago’s wonderful soliquiqy where he mockingly asks his Elizbethan Squad how he can possibly be a bad guy for trying to give some honest advice to a friend. Well, maybe because sometimes something really bad happens as the result of good intentions.

The Divinity of Hell.  

I love it!

Another one of my favorite lines in the song is, “one thing’s for sure, maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours.”  Again, just like Iago’s sentiments when he gets passed over for promotion by Othello.  Sure he’s angry and jealous and embarrassed, but he is damn sure not going to be the only one who suffers, not while he’s still around.branagh-iago-BIG

 

And finally, my absolutely favorite part of the video…..the tower of Taylor Swift images being flattened by Taylor Swift herself as she lyrically declares that she trusts no one as they feel the sameTaylor-Swift-Look-What-You-Made-Me-Do-Video-Meaning about her AND she is going to be the nightmare to her enemies.

 

 

 

Or as Iago would put it,

“I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at; I am not what I am.” (Act I, Scene I, lines 64-65)

 

Well done, Ms. Swift, very, very, well done!

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My St. Helena

GettyImages-146793866_super_csNapoleon Bonapart was exiled twice in his lifetime.

The first time to Elba, an island in the Mediterranean, where he seemed to have a pretty nice time.  He was still afforded the prestige he was used to, his home was maybe not a palace, but still some very nice digs and he made time lying around eating fresh cherries with one of the local girls in addition to spending time with his mistress.  Napolean stayed on Elba less than a year before he went back to France and messed up even more.

It was called Waterloo and it prompted the British to exile him to the remote island of St. Helena, an island in the South Atlantic, which is still one of the most remote, hard to get to places in the world.  And in our age of globalization, that’s no small feat.

So there he was on this tiny rock of an island in the middle of vast ocean.  I imagine him walking around on the cliffs, looking out at the expanse of water surrounding him and knowing he would die there.

But maybe he felt like he was already dead.

From the pictures I have seen St. Helena seems very like a purgatory type of place.  Craggy, windy, moldy, steep, quiet, lonely, isolated, hard to reach…are just some of the words used to describe it.

For a man so used to intrigue and power, how devastating.

We don’t have to wonder or speculate on his state of mind, as so much has been written about the feisty French emperor.  He detested St. Helena Island.

Exilethe state or period of forced or voluntary absence from one’s home or country. 

My Facebook account has not been active for several months now.  I have left all of my volunteer commitments.  My phone now only serves to keep the time or occasionally check the weather forecast.  My contact list has been pared down to emergency only numbers.

I still go to work every day.  I shop and cook and clean my house. I read copiously and write on the computer or with soft pencils.   I watch and wave from the dock as my family and friends venture out, each to their own battles and adventures.  And then when they return I greet them with either trumpets or gauze.

At first it was hard, this self imposed exile, but it was needed.  Exhausted after too many Waterloo’s where I had not been Wellington I felt a bittersweet relief as I stood on the sandy beach.

I do not detest my  island.

I embrace my silence and my exile.

I walk my craggy cliffs and look out at the vast ocean around me and I am thankful for my St. Helena.

The spoils of the library book sale.

 

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I do think at times I have some psychic moments.

Since Thursday I have been thinking about this one library that I never go to.  I think I have been there once or twice maybe in the last several years, but only to run over a pick up a book they held for me, never having the time to browse around.  It’s just not in my neck of the woods, so to speak.

But anyway, anyway….so, I had been thinking about it and since my hubby and both sons were out of town on Saturday, I took my mom out to this library on a whim.  But there, dropped across the front doors was a sign from the Universe!

It read, Library Book Sale!

Cue chorus of angels!!  

Library book sales are the best!  

All paperbacks fifty cents, hard covers, $1.00 and large hard covers, $2.00.  And at this sale you had a very active and helpful “Friends of the Library,” volunteer staff who said all kinds of wonderful things such as, “Can I help you find something?  Could I take those for you so you don’t have to carry them around?  Would you like them in a large box or bags?” 

That last statement will mean a lot to those like me who clear out trunks and bring wheelbarrows to events such as this.  

My entire bill was twelve dollars.  Twelve dollars!

I worked that sale like the professional I am.

Step One  – seek out the miscellaneous box.  This box has all the books which don’t fit in a specific category.  Many novices pass over it because they don’t want to dig through, but you run the risk of missing some real gems.  In the miscellaneous box I found a beautiful Funk & Wagnalls, copyright 1909, Best of the World’s Classics, edited by Henry Cabot Lodge book.  I’m not a “how-much-is-it-worth-person,” but I do know that this small book is pretty hard to find and will be a great addition to my classics collection. IMG_1770

Step Two look for the books you always wanted to get, but never did.  I loved watching the original Carl Sagan Cosmos series on PBS all those years ago and I always thought I would buy the book, but it just never happened.  I got it yesterday for $2.00.  IMG_1768

Step Three – access Goodreads.  I used to think this was cheating, because part of the fun was discovering a new author on your own, but now…well, money is harder to come by and I have grown reclutant to go exploring on my own.  The lovely community of Goodreads convinced me to purchase, My Several Worlds, by Pearl S. Buck.

Step Four– the travel box.  So much of the travel box is filled with out of date Michelin guide books, snooze!  But if you root around in there you can find some wonderful stuff.  I always look for the travel books written in the fifties and sixties.  The war had ended and a lot of people had the cash for travel, so the travel books have lots of lovely photos and the prose is meant to entice.

Step Five- get a little shallow and go for looks.  Let’s face it, some books are just more attractive than others.  And the library book sale is probably one of the only times you can justify buying for looks only.  My mother got some wonderful needlepoint books which are stunning and I got a lovely book of ghost storiesIMG_1767 with hands-down some of best illustrations I have seen in years.

Step Sixtext books.  I love old text books because of the marginalia.  Whenever I see a text book shelf I first look for the subject matter which appeals to me.  I will be passing on the chemical engineering and the geology, but I love to look in the humanities sections.  Then I thumb through and look for the notes.  This may be some kind of phychosis, but I love to see what others have written to themselves in textbooks.  Yesterday I found a wonderful book, Reading for a Liberal Education, which is filled with notes and some kind of mysterious short hand.  IMG_1769

Step Seven – talk to the other shoppers.  Some book sale shoppers are out for blood.  You know who you are.  But most are wonderful and willing to swap and help you look if you help them.  For example, “Excuse me, I see you have a lot of mysteries there, well, I just saw a wonderful book of Ed Gorey art in the miscellaneous box, if you are interested,” or I’m sorry, but I can’t help, but notice you have the only copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, would you be willing to trade for my hardback Isaac Asimov Collected Works?” 

Ah the Library Book Sale!

Good times….good times….

 

 

The Alchemy of a Story

What makes a good book a great book?  

A question that has been debated by far more brilliant minds than mine.  But what the heck!  Let’s pour out some more tea, pull up a chair and see what we come up with.

I just finished reading two books –

“Murder Most Austen” by Tracy Kiely and “The Razor’s Edge” by W. Somerset Maugham.

They were both good books, but only Maugham’s was a great book.  But before you go all I-knew-you-were-going-to-say-that, let me just take a moment to say why.

The Kiely book was everything it said it was going to be.  It was fun and charming and it took me away to The Jane Austen Festival in Bath, where I have always wanted to go.  The author kept me interested in the story and her descriptions were well written enough to where I felt the experience of the festival, as much as the heroine.  This book helped me accomplish a goal.  It had aided in my escape from the realities of an almost fifty-year old working mother.

But it didn’t make me….feel. 

Maugham did that.  In his meandering, lengthy character study, with no great plot twists, he somehow poked a hole in me and I felt.  When I closed the book last night, I lay in my bed with the melancholy of a trip ended, a passage closed.  Larry, Isabel, Sophie, Eliot, they were truly gone and I felt such an emptiness.  But they were never real people.  They were only words on a page…letters strung together.

Words and letters only….words and letters that made me feel.

How is that possible?

I can’t even being to contemplate.

But isn’t it amazing.

Returning to them.

So I tried to save the world.

But it was grasping and hand aching to tug and pull so much.

Defeated I put the world away on the high shelf.

Then I tried to clear my mind,

But I couldn’t get the memories to come unstuck no matter how hard I tried.

I lay face up in the bed, not praying.

My guilt and shame at leaving them bore a hole right through me.

“I can’t promise you anything,”  I told them.

Their returned silence meant they didn’t want to hear my excuses.

This morning I picked them up and slowly read about their lives.

Let’s see, Annie was stuck in the cave and the water was rushing in….

Seth and Luke were locked in a fierce battle with trust….

And Paul…

I had left Paul, still heartbroken and crying, beside the cold sea. 

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You say I am.

Why are you so afraid of me?

Do you not believe in your own convictions, values, ideals, statements?

“________ people are wrong, stupid, evil, whiners,biased, dishonest,dirty, treacherous. We know what is right.”

Why does it matter to you  if I disagree?

Why does it matter to you if I read or question?

How does it harm you if I hold a sign or march in a group?

You have power and money and influence.

I have none of those things.

You say you are helping me, you are protecting me, making my life better, that if I disagree with you I should move away, I am ungrateful.

I have no money, no power, no influence….I am no threat to your strength, your control, your dominance.

And yet, you fear me.

Why?

Because I will not be cruel.  I will not condemn others.  I will reach out to those needing help and I will show decency and I will work hard to be kind and I will not be a slave to money or greed and I will learn about others and I will work for peace among all nations, for all people.

And he said, “Why?  What evil has he done?” 

But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Matthew 27:23