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Books for Cheering

Was having a sort of crummy day today-- worries about stupid daily things, a fretful feeling in the soul, an awareness of my own shortcomings. Dipped into The Ionian Mission, (handy on my Kindle,) and read the section about the rhino. Well, it does not solve anything, but makes me feel much better.

I have books that I keep by for just that. I don't need to read them back to front anymore, they are already part of me. I find that the Aubreyad works that way, and the Hornblower books, and the Jonty and Orlando books. And now Marlowe too. In years past I have found Mary Renault, or Dorothy Sayers or Thurber would do the same.

As a child, growing up, I was pretty isolated from the outside world. The Vineyard was less popular, and less populated, in the 1970s. I had kids in my class at school who had never been off-island. We only went a few times a year. And I found the big roads and the bridges and traffic and tall buildings pretty alarming. So it was important for me to read about people in other parts of the world, and other times, people very different from country-mouse me. I can remember thinking, that the world, although it seemed scary, was full of kind and interesting people. Because look, they were in books, and somebody had to write the books.

Well, as you guys know, it turned out to be true. Look, there you all are! Kind and funny and interesting, and writing books!

And here I am, in one of the worlds big cities-- managing more or less. How are all of you doing?


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 15th, 2013 07:31 pm (UTC)
That's interesting! I sometimes think I would love to have grown up on the Vineyard, but I never thought of the isolation. As much as I loved our summers at the cottage in Plymouth, the kids I met who LIVED in Plymouth were all (you'll forgive the expression) 'hicks'. Books were my escape as a kid (and sometimes now) from boredom, from frustration, even from being one of six kids!!

In just a few minutes I must run and drive to the next suburb to get nanny boy, then drive to pick up nanny Mom and daughter at the train, then take them all home!! OI!
Jul. 15th, 2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
We were hicks in my town for sure. There was a lot good about it, but for me I think it caused a sort of fear of the big world which I still struggle with.

I am not afraid of swimming in the ocean, or physical injury, or large animals, or being alone in the woods, to that is good, I guess!
Jul. 15th, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
I guess I got the best of both worlds in my childhood! Most of the year I lived in Boston, rode the trains and buses and subways and shopped in the downtown department stores. In the Summer I lived in a cottage with cold water pumped from a well, no bathtub or shower, and spent my days swimming, boating, picking blueberries in the woods and studying ants.
Jul. 15th, 2013 08:11 pm (UTC)
I grew up and still live in the countryside. It's rather boring and full of unexpected noise! Planes, farming machines, saws, birds! I don't complain about the latter, but sometimes they can drive you nuts!
As a child I'd always thought, America is a fantasy :) Not real, you know. And yes - big cities frighten me too. I've never heard the expression 'country-mouse' before *g*, but it fits perfectly.

Not that I'm afraid or something. As you said: the world is full of interesting, friendly, awesome people!

Books... are my saviour! I've read books from the day I was born! Honestly. You never saw me without a book. I was reading at the bus, from home to bus station and back. In every break, everytime.
I've read everything. From pulp fiction to Wittgenstein (biography), a lot about nature and history (but forgot the half of it), not half as much poetry as I would have liked :). Science, novels, comic books.

Now with the slash background I try to learn more about the past. Aubreyard - history, technical stuff, clothes etc. Isn't it funny that back in school history was such a boring lesson? And now we can't get enough of it.

Writing becomes more and more important. You start writing things down that are important or have left an impression on you. Sorting things out, what is still present, what can be deleted? Finding new paths, waving new pattern... Writing things down you don't want to forget... Leaving a mark on the world...

I would love to swim in the ocean one day :) I'm too curious to be afraid :)
Jul. 16th, 2013 08:03 pm (UTC)
Funny how reading leads to more reading. Fiction leads to non-fiction, to actual research, to writing!

You are certainly right too about the country being noisy!

I wish you could visit here, and come swimming. It would be so fun.
Jul. 16th, 2013 08:58 pm (UTC)
I wished I could... One day :) Promised!
Jul. 15th, 2013 09:59 pm (UTC)
My early childhood was spent forty or so miles outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Lots of time to myself or just with family, sister and parents. One set of grandparents were there as well. I think being away from the crowds (not really knowing about them) helped develop my imagination.
Jul. 16th, 2013 08:00 pm (UTC)
Yes. Having to entertain yourself as a kid is good for you I think. I spent a lot of time at the beach or in the woods alone. I had the sort of parents who would put you to work if they saw you loitering. Best to go out after breakfast with a plan to keep out of their way!
Jul. 16th, 2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
I was too young to be put to work when we were there. Hoping to get back for a vacation someday. Hopefully some of the folks I remember are still around. BTW,if you have read Beyond the Ocean's Edge and remember Bessie and Cecilia, they are based on people (mother and daughter) with the same names that I vaguely remember. I think Cecilia baby sat my sister and I a couple of times.
Jul. 16th, 2013 06:37 am (UTC)
I've only read one or two Sayerses (Gaudy Night and that one where Lord Peter works at an ad agency - Murder Must Advertise?), but I enjoyed them very much. I honestly didn't expect to be very enthused about them (Agatha Christie never caught on with me), but I ended up really enjoying them!

I also grew up in the countryside (although rather on the other side of the country, I think - I'm in northern California), and have recently discovered, much to my surprise, that I'm a bona-fide city mouse. I love visiting my family and friends in the country, of course, but strangely, I feel really at home in cities (provided they have enough greenery scattered around, of course).
Jul. 16th, 2013 07:55 pm (UTC)
I was surprised to find that the city appeals to me. (Brooklyn, considered apart from Manhattan, is still a world class city, by population, and it is crazily dense.) There is a lot of green around here though. It is easy to get to the beach, or to trees and grass. Being alone is much harder to do. But it is possible to be undisturbed. Headphones help.

Jul. 16th, 2013 06:57 am (UTC)
I grew up in every flavor of suburbia. I found it mostly very isolating, but I never did make friends well, and never stayed in place once I did have them. I find big cities thrilling, but exhausting. There is no aloneness like a crowd. I might live in one for a year, but probably not a lifetime. Countryside scares me a little. I enjoy nature, but not being trapped, and being a non-driver, anywhere without good public transit is a trap.

Now I live in yet a different flavor of suburbia, the very inner suburbs of a very sprawling big city. Reasonably good transit by American standards, but still isolated and alienated. Parenthood has ended up being very lonely, and between work and child, there isn't much space for anything else. I did read some books this past week, for the first time in forever. Elizabeth Moon, an author of my alienated, isolated youth. It was a good reminder that there is always the escape of a book, when the rest of my life is gray and sad. Now to find time to hit a library again.
Jul. 16th, 2013 01:47 pm (UTC)
You might try "Parenting101", a community on LJ, where you can connect with others in the same boat. And see if your library has a 'story hour' for kids- entertainment for kiddo and meeting other Moms (there is no bad here). As a parent of 7, these were my lifelines!!
Jul. 16th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
We no longer have a car either. It means we cannot leave the city much. Inside the city it means that we cannot haul large loads of groceries, and it is a pain to take the dog to the vet. Having a car really reduces the lug and lift and carry part of life.

Counting back in my head, I am guessing you are doing a lot of the lugging of increasingly heavier child and increasingly larger amounts of stuff with you. There is a long period of time that I recall where they can walk, but they cannot walk all day, or cannot be expected to follow along and not toddle off!

In the same way, they can talk, (sometimes it seems they never stop,) but you cannot really talk to them. It is lonely.

I do find that books help, more perhaps than almost anything else. I am so glad you are still around LJ, at least to read. Maybe when she is bigger, and the demands on you ease just a little, you will write again. I hope so, at least.
Oct. 4th, 2016 02:52 pm (UTC)
I never liked being home in the evenings with just baby, after being home all day with her. Naturally I loved her, but the day felt lacking in accomplishment and interest. No going out dancing any more. It was a low time of day. My husband is gone a lot on business and it was lonely. Being in China and having a housekeeper during the day helped, having someone to talk to. And as the kids got bigger they started being more of company and that helped too. Now the eldest is nine and the youngest is three, and life is much easier than it was. We're through the baby phase, God willing! Three of my four kids are in school, which helps enormously. Thus I have more time for reading lately (although I actually don't have time, I should be cleaning the house right now, but I can't tear myself away from my reading, it is my brain drug.) I hope your life is also starting to move out of the sad grey phase. When I am feeling sad and grey, I read your stories, among others. They aren't exactly cheering, I suppose, but I am in love with them anyway.

Edited at 2016-10-04 03:07 pm (UTC)
Jul. 16th, 2013 01:12 pm (UTC)
You write really beautifully. And I envy you for your childhood on the island. I grew up in very ordinary residential areas of big cities, and there were no real nature around me though I had enjoyed with insect or plants in my grandfather's small garden. To me as a child "the world" meant rather a society, not the mother nature, and that world was not friendly to me.
Jul. 16th, 2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
Yes. That world of other people can be unkind. It was so to me. Animals and books, and nature, kept me going in those years. Even a small garden can be a whole world if you watch closely. Children are better at looking closely than grown people are.
Jul. 16th, 2013 04:20 pm (UTC)
"...How are you doing?..."

The boss is flying me to the Bay Area next week and that's when one of my best friends will also be around. We meet only every 3 years.
Jul. 16th, 2013 07:50 pm (UTC)
Oh what a treat! I hope you have a good time with your old friend. You have have had a miserable few months, I think, with frustrations and not being appreciated at work.
Jul. 17th, 2013 01:52 am (UTC)
Thanks! I am planning to enjoy the evening.
Jul. 16th, 2013 07:59 pm (UTC)
Seconding Dorothy L Sayers; Lois McMaster Bujold; and, of course, JRR Tolkien.

I, too, grew up in the middle of the countryside; a mile from the nearest house, two from the nearest village (c100 people), and eight from the nearest town (c30,000 people).
Jul. 16th, 2013 09:50 pm (UTC)
Tolkien of course. I also liked Joan Aiken. Oh, and lots more, so many books.
Jul. 17th, 2013 12:46 am (UTC)
You know, I wouldn't have gone right to the rhino as a comfort scene, but I can see it working.

Strangely, the bit that always makes me feel better is with Jack, Stephen, and Jagiello in prison, and the Widow Lehideux. "Pray, what is the French for a double sister-block, coaked?" "Sure, I hardly know what it is in English."

I've been a bit under the weather... I think it was more than just a hangover.
Oct. 4th, 2016 03:01 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I love that scene. I loved Jagiello too, so pretty and so alarmed when women chased him, and Jack's utter mystification at why females flocked to such a girlish boy instead of appreciating the manly charms of someone so hairy he had to shave twice a day. Does Jagiello have his own fan club? He sounds, if possible, even prettier than Archie. Archie is pretty, but he has that clenched square jaw and muscles and pain and grit. Jagiello sounded like a very nice boy who was pretty and brave, but amazingly innocent. Archie never had a chance to be innocent, poor boy. *pets them both*
Oct. 4th, 2016 05:44 pm (UTC)
I love Jagiello protesting 'they have never seen my loins.' Yes he is innocent. Even at 17 Archie was not that kind of innocent. Love had to come to give Archie his innocence back.
Nov. 15th, 2016 12:53 pm (UTC)
Yes! I love them both. Jagiello is so cute there that I want to keep him as a pet...as does every female character in the book.

Actually I am noticing that the Aubreyad absolutely abounds with boys and young men who are explicitly described as "pretty," "beautiful," or "an Apollo," and who are even sometimes described as exciting the admiration of their more "paederastic" shipmates, and I worry about what will happen to them if they ever encounter a Simpson, but it seems they almost never do - at least not aboard any of Jack's ships. Perhaps because, unlike Captain Keene, Jack is a vigilant captain who's fairly in tune with his crew?

Edited at 2016-11-15 12:55 pm (UTC)
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )