The Dinner List- A List & A Review

I found The Dinner List, by Rebecca Serle, on the Book of the Month Club. It was one of the picks for August, so I thought, “Why not?”

It’s something we’ve all done; picked 5 people (living or dead) we’d like to have dinner with. I expected a light, fluffy, read, especially when I saw that one of the dinner guests was Audrey Hepburn.

What I got was a book that was an easy read, but had some surprising depth, exploring how complex relationships can be. The diners were Sabrina (the birthday girl), her estranged father, her best friend (who’s been growing away from her), her estranged boyfriend, and a college professor. Oh, and Audrey Hepburn.

This book doesn’t offer up solutions to thorny relationship issues, but it is an exploration of the way we sometimes sabotage the very thing we want, and how two people can feel wronged in a relationship and both be right. It also explored the grief we feel over the loss of loved ones, and the loss we sometimes feel even when they’re technically still there.

Despite all that, it’s charming and funny at times. I finished it knowing I’d recommend it to others.

I haven’t done this in ages, so I thought now would be a great time to make a new list. I’m not including anyone from my day to day life on this list because… well… I can go to dinner with them whenever I want!

The five real people I’d love to have dinner with:

  1. My grandma (gone since 1993)
  2. My grandpa (gone since 2006)
  3. Bryn Greenwood (an amazing author)
  4. Drew Barrymore (I’m a fan!)
  5. Paul McCartney (only the best musician ever)

Who’d be on your list of 5 people?

My Relationship With the Library

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A partial stack of my most recent library books. There are others… somewhere.

Dear Library,

We’ve had an on again-off again thing for years. When I’m into you, I’m all in. When I’m not into you… well, let’s just say, it’s not you; it’s me.

When I was much younger, I had a thing going on with a huge, gorgeous old library. I remember it as having like 5 stories (though that may be the memory of youth) and checking out stacks and stacks of books.

As I got older, it became easier to just buy books when I wanted them. I stopped visiting that library, and eventually, I moved away.

My next library was small and unimpressive. It was one big room in a repurposed building. It had none of the character or history of my first library. I borrowed books sometimes, but I just wasn’t that into it.

You don’t need every detail of my history, do you? The next serious relationship I had with a library happened in Arizona, where I joined my first library with a network. Even if my library didn’t have what I wanted, I could log on and “reserve” any book in the system, and they’d bring it to my library. This worked for books, CDs, and DVDs. Suddenly, I was in love again. I was borrowing like crazy, stopping by the shelf of librarian picks and grabbing books based on their covers. (This is how I discovered John Dies at the End).

When I moved, we had to end that relationship. It was tough; I’d grown accustomed to how… well… easy it was. I was afraid that the next one wouldn’t be as accessible.

Lucky for me, my current library is super easy. It has the same “reserve” feature. It also has digital borrowing, so I can get library books right on my Kindle! This is great for me, since sometimes, I have to read something RIGHT NOW, and if I don’t own it, this can be a problem. Often, I’m able to get it from the library when I want it.

I still buy a lot of books, especially ones I want to mark up or reread. But the library is a great source for me to feed my book habit without having to buy every book I ever want to read.

So, Library, I guess what I’m saying is that, for now, I’m committed to you. I can’t be exclusive because you don’t meet all my needs, but I want to see you regularly. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Love,

Doree

M is for Marriage

Ladybird Johnson Wildlife Center, Austin TX

Ladybird Johnson Wildlife Center, Austin TX

I like being married.  I like it even better that I’m married to someone who gets me.

I read an article yesterday about how it’s important to have boundaries in marriage, and the author stated that she thinks everyone should have boundaries like trying not to be alone with someone of the opposite sex, and never having private conversations with the other sex because people are weak, and it can lead to infidelity.

I’m glad these boundaries work for the author and her husband, but I don’t agree that those are the right boundaries for everyone.

The fact is that most of my friends are men, and most of my husband’s friends are women.  We both have a mix of both, of course, but that’s just kind of how it works out for us.

My husband gets that I like spending time alone, and that it has nothing to do with him.  He gets that I’m not really a morning person, and that I’d rather stay up late than get up early.  He gets that I complain a lot, but if you can ignore my complaints, I’m helpful and pleasant.  He gets that I like to read and write more than I like doing just about anything else.

My husband isn’t perfect; he’s got plenty of flaws.  But then, so do I.  What’s important isn’t our strengths or weaknesses, but that they work for us.  There’s no one size fits all when it comes to any kind of relationship.

Books and Relationships

Turn the page, wouldja?

Turn the page, wouldja?

Zoë Heller and Anna Holmes recently posed the question: Have you ever had a relationship end because of a book?

I found the idea intriguing, and as they both present some of the arguments they’ve had with significant others over books, I envy their passion, at least a little.

You see, I confess: I’ve never dated a man who likes to read.

I don’t know why this would be.  I’m known in my circle of friends as reading more than any human being should have time for.  I devour books.  I read them walking around my house, in the bathtub, in my backyard, and at stoplights.  I read them in line at the grocery store and waiting at the doctor’s office.  To me, waiting is a cause for celebration, not a reason to get upset, because I always have a book in my purse.  And should I forget my book, well, I have a whole stack of books on the Kindle app in my iPhone.

I’ve had friends who like to read, but they usually don’t read the same things I do.  I have several friends who read high fantasy, which is too slow for me, and several friends who read literary fiction that goes over my head.  So I don’t really have people I can discuss books with, or get mad at when they disagree.

I’m part of an online book club, and while I enjoy it, it’s just not the same as sitting down with a good friend over a cup of coffee and discussing why literary fiction is so damn depressing.

Then again, I also can’t imagine getting so passionate about my opinion on any book that I’d break up with someone over their opinion.

Unless they said I read too much.  Then… they’re dead to me.

 

Trust Issues

Pecan Street Festival, Austin TX Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Pecan Street Festival, Austin TX
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

It seems like everyone these days has trust issues, if Facebook is any indication.  I see all kinds of posts going around about how people have had their trust broken, about how loved ones are stabbing them in the back, and I think, “Does everyone have trust issues?”

I guess everyone has someone in their lives who have hurt them.  You can’t get through life without it.  The issue is how it affects you.  Do you let those who’ve hurt you color your relationships with everyone, or do you learn the lesson and move on from it?

I’ve had people break my trust, and at the time, it hurt.  I thought I would never recover from it.  Eventually, time and distance lessen pain, and I did move on from what happened.  It didn’t resolve overnight, and when I was able to take a step back from the pain, I found lessons in what happened.  I could have chosen to learn that people aren’t trustworthy, but I didn’t learn that.  What I learned is that people are human, and sometimes hurt you.  Sometimes it’s intentional, and when it is, it’s usually about something going on with them.  Sometimes it’s unintentional.  They’re hurt.  Or depressed.  Or in pain.  Or scared.  And they lash out.  There are some genuinely rotten people out there, but that’s not most of the people I meet.  Most of the people I meet just have their own stuff going on.  But I digress.

So in my case, the person was all of the above: hurt, depressed, in pain, and scared.  This person lashed out at me and hurt me.  A lot.  In order to protect myself, I had to distance myself from this person, which really hurt me because it was someone I was very close to.  All of the above is not an excuse to hurt others, and I wasn’t going to stand in the way and be hurt over and over again.  I completely cut myself off from this person for about 6 months.  I ignored text messages, phone calls, Facebook messages, and emails.  I took that time to heal myself, and in that time, I decided that I wanted to continue a relationship with this person.  I went back to the relationship, knowing 100% who they were and choosing to accept it.  Acceptance doesn’t make it okay when others hurt you, but acceptance does mean that you’ll be okay, no matter what happens.

To my surprise, when I refused to get angry, our relationship actually improved.  The person got a little healthier and I was a lot healthier.  I didn’t keep opening those old wounds.

My situation isn’t everyone’s situation.  But I do think that forgiveness works in every situation.  I forgave, and it healed me inside.  Sometimes forgiveness has to be done at a distance.  Sometimes when you forgive, you can’t resume the relationship.  It’s important not to continue a relationship with someone who hurts you over and over.  You can’t forgive an ongoing wound; it would be nearly impossible and completely exhausting.

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.  It’s really just a choice to let go of pain and bitterness.  Many people say that trust issues are their way of protecting themselves from getting hurt again, but I disagree.  Most people with “trust issues” don’t feel good about those issues.  Their lack of trust in others doesn’t make them feel safer or more secure.  Having trust issues means that the person must constantly be on the defensive, must worry about and analyze the intentions of others.  That doesn’t sound like a solution to me; it sounds like a whole new set of problems.

Even though I’ve been hurt in the past (the above is just one example), I don’t assume people are going to hurt me.  I assume that they’ll do the best they can with what they’ve got.  Sometimes, the best they can do in that moment is awful.  Sometimes they’re mean or unpredictable or just not present.  But that’s not about me; that’s about them.  And I could choose to judge them for it, or I can try to understand that whatever is going on in their heads is why they are that way.  And I can understand that nothing I could do or say to them would be worse than them having to live inside their own heads, and I can be grateful that I don’t have to spend time there.

I never give  anything I can’t afford to: money, time, love, energy.  So when I give it away, if I don’t get paid back, I let it go.  Because I didn’t give away something too expensive.  That allows me, when someone breaks my trust, to let it go and know that at that moment, the person I gave to felt that they needed whatever it was more than I did.  I can wish them well and walk away.

Bridezilla

We’ve all heard the term, “bridezilla.”  You know, the woman who gets so caught up in making things perfect for her day that she makes everyone else’s day a living hell.  When I started planning my wedding and learned about everything that goes into planning, I said, “uh uh.  No way.”  And we went to Vegas.

My friends are all “sane” (not really) and relatively “stable” (they all live indoors, anyway).  I can’t imagine receiving an email like this one.  If I were invited to be one of her bridesmaids, I can be pretty positive that I would have had another commitment the day of her wedding.

Read, and prepare to be horrified.  If there’s anyone out there who finds her requests reasonable, please tell me in comments.