Sunday, March 31, 2019

100 Things I Want to Tell My Children and Grandchildren, #31

Where “Gals” came from.

For some reason, I woke up this morning (1) excited at the prospect of having time to write on my blog, and (2) inexplicably wondering where the term “gals” came from.

Admittedly, I’ve not been very dedicated to my blog the past year, and not that you would necessarily notice, but if you’ve wondered, it’s because I have been redirecting my “recreation” time to spending time with grandkids and/or working more so I’ll have money to spend on my grandkids (I rationalize it as “buying experiences and opportunities” for grandkids). 

With regard to “gals,” I’m not sure where my curiosity about that word came from, other than my preternatural curiosity about all things, but whatever the motivation, I had no idea what I was getting into when I struck off on my research into the term gals. 

First, as we all know, in the era of high-speed access to the bottomless internet, research is never done. I could have spent the balance of the week in the gals research maze. But at some point, you just must stop and go with what you have so far – and so far, I’ve discovered there is a never-ending list of synonyms for gals, many of which I’ve never heard of and are mind-blowing! I also discovered there are both positive and negative connotations.

Gals is considered derogatory as relates to slavery. Apparently, some slave-owners referred to women slaves as gals. I never knew this and feel regretful that I may have offended someone with the use of gals. On the other hand, we are all residuals of our zeitgeist, and in the world I grew up in, a gal was an endearing term. So, what to do. Well, I just hope that anyone offended by my use of gals will forgive me and understand I use it in reference to women I particularly respect. 

On the fun end, take a look at all these words I found related to gals – some of which are very offensive, a few of which I had to research further, and one of which I am particularly enamored, “bluestocking” - an educated, intellectual woman, originally a member of the 18th-century Blue Stockings Society led by the hostess and critic Elizabeth Montagu (pictured above), who was a salonnière. And how wonderful is the word salonnière?  How many gals-related words below are new to you?

adventuress, amazon, amie, arm candy, aviatrix, babe, bad kitty, bag, baggage, baroness, belle, bellibone, belladonna, besom, biddy, bimbo, bint, bird, bit, bitch, box, bridezilla, broad, butterfly, charlie, chica, chick, chiquita, chicadee, chook, colleen, collegiette, coquette, contessa, countess, dame, damsel, daughter, demimondaine, demoiselle, dyke, dish, doll, dowager, doxy, doyenne, duchess, duck, dudette, duenna, editrix, editress, empress, female, femme, femme-fatal, fille, filly, flipper, floozy, fox, frail, frau, gentlewoman, girl, girlfriend, girlie, godiva, grandmother, gurl, hag, harridan, hoe, hoochie, homegirl, honey, hussy, ice queen, ingénue, jane, judy, lady, lass, lassie, lesbian, little woman, love, ma’am, madam, maid, maiden, mama, marchioness, mare, matriarch, matron, mavourneen, member of the fair sex, member of the gentle sex, mädchen, milady, miss, missus, mistress, moll, mother, nina, noblewoman, Mrs. , Ms. , mujer, old bag, old lady, old woman, peeress, pet, petticoat, piece, poontang, popsy, princess, pussy, queen, queen bee, regina, rib, sausage jockey, schoolgirl, she, sheila, sister, skank, skirt, slattern, sleeze, sororiwhore, squaw, sultana, sweet thing, sylph, tail, tart, termagant, tootsie, tramp, vamp, victress, virago, viscountess, vituperator, wahine, wench, whore, wifie, woman, yenta, and yorga

Best Books 2019

Of the 38 books I read in 2019, these stand out:

Best Fiction 2019




Best Non-Fiction 2019




Cluster Critiques

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

When Kya was six, and barely old enough to remember, her mom walked away from their home tucked into the marshland of the North Carolina coast, and never returned. Kya and her three older siblings learned to stay out of the way of their violent alcoholic father, each growing up and leaving as soon as they could, until eventually the dad disappeared as well, leaving Kya, age 10, alone and on her own. By necessity, the earth, water, flora and fauna of the marsh became her companion, teacher, mother and savior. 

Although there were rumors in town about a “swamp girl,” and Kya even trying for a while to attend school, soon enough, she turned away from the foreign, complicated nature of society, and back to the comfortable, uncomplicated society of nature. The child welfare systems soon forgot about her, and she grew up with the marsh and its inhabitants her only trustworthy, knowable constant.

Where the Crawdads Singof course also includes a complex plot involving Kya’s sexual awakening, betrayal, true love, personal achievement, and even murder, but those are only side dishes (albeit fairly yummy ones) to the lovely, lyrical, relationship Kya had with the marsh that raised her, and the extraordinary persona she developed as a result of that isolated upbringing.

When author Delia Owens was a little girl, her nature-loving southern mother would encourage her to explore, saying “go way out yonder where the crawdads sing.” And Delia did, eventually becoming a wildlife scientist in Africa.  When my book club recently discussed this book, going around the room, picking one word to describe how this book made them feel, the word “jealous” came up several times – jealousy of Kya’s simple, quiet, satisfied existence. I too found myself wondering how peaceful and uncomplicated it would be to be Kya – way out yonder where the crawdads sing. Except for a few clichéd characters, this is a unique story, beautifully told. 

The Witch Elm by Tana French

I found myself loving this book, but anxious for it to end. I truly enjoy French’s exceptional writing, but in this case, she seemed to lose sign of “diminishing return” - when enough is enough and resolution is called for.

The Witch Elm is about Toby, a Dublin publicist for an art gallery, and his pastiche of friends and family members who discover a human skull in a tree on his Uncle Hugo's property – a place where they’ve all spend many summers and holidays together for decades. Who does the skull belong to? How did it get there? What role, by virtue of their lives and personas, did each of them play in the mysterious death.

French beautifully weaves a tapestry of suspicion, red herrings, hints and threats as she leads us through what Stephen King in his NY Times review described as a Thomas Hardy-like mystery, and which made me flash back on the many Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mystery books I read in my youth. 

The Which Elm characters twist you around their little fingers, making you sure you know what’s what, when in fact you do not, and you’re all the more grateful (literally speaking) for it. 

Good? Yes. Long? Yes. Worth it? Yes. 

Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

If you watch TV you may have seen both the commercial and PBS versions of the story about Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, the technology company dedicated to making multiple medical diagnosis through a single finger prick and one drop of blood – obviously, a revolution in medical science that would change the world. Unfortunately, over time, the facts surfaced that their technology was failing frequently and many of their claims were exaggerated and in some instances false. One might surmise what makes the very public crucifixion of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, a story seemingly even more compelling than their revolutionary ambition, is the “fake-it-till-you-make-it” methodology embraced since the beginning of time didn’t work for this invention because it endangered people. However, it feels more sinister to me. 

Yes, Theranos claims were misleading and produced inaccurate blood test results, but industry has been misleading the public and placing them in danger forever – cigarettes, alcohol, cars, birth control, food preservatives, sugar, you name it. But I don’t recall any of those being attributed to a single individual – but rather to the companies.  Elizabeth Holmes to be so publically shot down in flames and villainized - even to the point of criticizing the tone of her voice, her wardrobe choices, and her decision to drop out of college to found her company (although Steve Job, Michael Dell, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg all did as well). 

Could it be that Elizabeth Holmes, once named by Forbes the youngest and wealthiest self-made female billionaire in America, was getting a little too uppity in a world yet dominated by men? I do not know. Just as Elizabeth Holmes charmed the likes of her very high profile board members and investors (George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, Bill Frist, Richard Kovacevich, Riley Bechtel, Tim Draper, Rupert Murdoch, Walmart, Betsy DeVos and others) she too sort of charmed me with her unflinching vision, fearlessness and ambition.  Alas, in March Elizabeth settled fraud allegations made by the Securities and Exchange Commission, agreeing to pay a $500,000 fine, give back a large portion of her Theranos shares, and be barred from acting as a public company's officer or director for a decade. 

Ronya Kozmetsky once told me the difference between the way women do business and men do business is that men fail and fail and fail, never looking back until they succeed, and that too often women fail and then spend years analyzing why and mourning their failure. I wonder which path Elizabeth Homes will take. Bad Blood is a fascinating look at what happens when theory and scientific discovery are driven by a culture that measures output in megabytes per second.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Author Michelle McNamara entered the world of unsolved crimes when, as a teenager, a girl was murdered near McNamara’s home, and her killer was never caught.I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is about the Golden State Killer (aka East Area Rapist, Original Night Stalker and Visalia Ransacker), a serial killer/rapist/kidnapper/burglar with whom our author was tragically obsessed until her death from an accidental drug overdose in 2018. 

Joseph DeAngelo, now 72 years old, was finally arrested last spring when a covert mission captured his DNA and matched it to crimes attributed to the Golden State Killer. Prosecutors believe DeAngelo killed 13 people and committed more than 50 rapes and 100 burglaries in six California counties in the 1970s and 1980s – a portion of which time he was a police officer. His trial in Sacramento County is expected to take as long as 10 years. 

With staggering detail and dozens of interviews with involved law enforcement and victims, this book sews together a patchwork of thousands of clues, revealing a profile of the seemingly unstoppable, undetectable predator who terrorized California for decade, and remained uncaptured for nearly 50 years. Sadly, it also profiles the torment of its writer, so consumed by her subject that it eventually contributes to her death. If you are interested in true crime, you won’t find a much more detailed study than this. Michelle McNamara literally gave her life to documenting and tracking down one of our generations most prolific and elusive serial killer/rapist. That level of commitment to writing doesn’t get more serious. 

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

Post-apocalyptical books tend to not bother me any more than movies about zombies, simply because there are much more evident pressing dangers to which we are exposed on a daily basis, like driving a car. But One Second After, about the challenges of surviving an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) did because unlike most books of this ilk, it didn’t focus on the bad guys or larger than life saviors and gross destruction, it focused on the very fundamental, small, real dangers, like infection and starvation. 

First, electromagnetic pulse is a burst of electromagnetic radiation that theoretically can wipe out all electronics – including computers, phones, vehicles, anything that runs on electricity (which almost everything does). Which means no food, no medicines, and in some areas, no water. Your imagination can take you from there, but suffice it to say it will be dog-eat-dog as everyone strives to keep their families alive. 

So, in the book, there is a EMP in a small, rural, close-knit North Carolina town, which might seem safer, then say, a large city where relationships are much more disjointed. But as vehicles with electronic dependence shut down, and travelers wander into town looking for help, and as criminals’ sense opportunity and families become desperate to protect their own – chaos ensues.  
And soon enough marshal law is enacted with brutal outcomes, wars begin between cities fighting for water and food, and simple cuts without the advantage of antibiotics become deadly.  

Three things I drew from this book that I’d not thought about before:
1.    How vulnerable one becomes if one has resources other do not. For example, if you’re a “prepper” who has stocked up on supplies and planed for an “end-of world” scenario, you will immediately become a prime target for those who have not. 
2.    The need for coalition. Groups will overtake individuals, and larger groups will overtake smaller coalitions. 
3.    Individuals who know the old ways of living off the land and are not so dependent on modern technology will survive longer.

Human behavior is pretty predictable and self-preservation is hard-wired, so it is always interesting how writers portray their version of what happens when our social structure breaks down. It’s hard to judge right or wrong when survival is the motivation, but just as with most post-apocalyptic books, One Second After primarily focuses on individuals with integrity and a concern for the greater good, which is why we read them – they feed our need to believe that no matter what happens the good people will survive. Read it? Sure. It’s pretty well-written, but digresses towards the end when the author is scrambling for a believable ending. 

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

I never met a man worth fighting with another woman for.  If his intentions aren’t clear. You can have him. Good luck. You’ll need it.

But that’s seemingly not the case with Vanessa and Nelly. Two women in love with the same man – suave, sophisticated, financially secure, and handsome Richard. But Vanessa, the x-wife, who once had Richard and his money and his sophisticated lifestyle, can’t let Nelly, the new fiancé, marry him! She can’t! She must stop the wedding. Nelly should know the truth So, she stalks Richard and Nelly, plotting and planning. But who is the real predator? Who is the prey?

The writing is good. The plot is wicked. The ending is smashing. But, you will slog through a good bit of adolescent-feeling narrative to find the psychological-thriller aspect of this pretty good book.  

The Gay Place by Billy Lee Brammer

This book was the book choice for our March Very Smart Gals Book Club meeting, and since hostess Marcia Milam picked it, she kicked off the discussion, recalling so many captivating personal connections and memories, which were quickly added to by so many of the gals who were also mingling on the cusp of that 1950-60 political era, and the characters who evolved out of it. Cathy Casey brought with her a first edition hard-cover reprint of The Gay Place that her company, Texas Monthly, produced in the ’70. It even had some penciled-in marginalia. There were so many wonderful stories and discovered connections that came from that book discussion, bringing all us gals even closer. I certainly have some great memories of that political period, as it was during that era that my mother was attending graduate school at UT during the summers. And although I was very young, I still absorbed impressions and they did impact me. 

I did a little research on The Gay Placein anticipation of our March meeting and came across the below, very lovely description of this book. I couldn’t say it better, so I won’t. Thanks to Matthew for this critique:

“I certainly didn't expect a novel based on LBJ's political career in Texas to be chock-full of eroticism and complicated passions. Not that the Johnsonian character is involved in most of the hanky panky - he floats over all the proceedings spouting quotes from the Old Testament and Hill Country superlatives - strangely, he is the most aloof character and the one I identified with the most. This novel is largely concerned with young people involved in Texas Government in the late fifties - filled with Austin's rich and powerful pining for the innocence they never had - they just don't cough up beautifully-wrought prose about it anymore.”

--> --> -->

Sunday, December 9, 2018

100 Things I Want to Tell My Children and Grandchildren, #30

Perspective is everything.

(Photo is of me, 4th from left, and some of my nieces and nephews. Probably dressed for church.)
I must have been about 12, walking from our house, a teacherage (teacher housing), to main street in the little 1,200-person community where I spent the first 18 years of my life. I recall with uncanny clarity what the sky looked like, summer blue faded by heat. What was to my left, the abandoned old red-brick two-story house I was certain held secrets. And to my right, the tiny little worn-down apartments where people who were really, really poor lived, not just kinda’ poor like us. I remember how the air smelled, hot and full of promise for hotter. And I especially remember the epiphany that made me stop abruptly. 

“We can’t judge what we don’t know.” 

That was my 12-year old understanding, but which over time and maturity became “Perspective is everything.”

Isn’t it peculiar how countless moments in our lives go un-noticed, un-remembered, un-recorded, and then there are those moments you never forget. This was one of those for me. Maybe you recall me saying I’d never heard my mother say a bad thing about anyone, and how incredibly extraordinary that was. When I criticized someone or something, a behavior I no doubt picked up from one of my playmates as it certainly didn’t exist in our home, Mom would say, “you cannot judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins,” a statement that conjured a visual, but no understanding of its meaning. But on that warm summer morning as I walked to town, the true meaning and significance of that saying blossomed, and I have ever since been intrigued by its truth.

“…walk a mile in his moccasins” has been attributed to American Indian wisdom, but in fact it’s attribution goes back to a poem written in 1895 by Mary T. Lathrap, called “Judge Softly.” And although the poem isn’t exactly earth-moving, the “moccasins” adage certainly resonated and found traction in American culture. And now that I understand the origin, I am even more charmed by the poem’s title, “Judge Softly,” a concept I wish more of us embraced.

“Perspective” has been a central theme in the texture of my personal culture, and has helped me be less judgmental and angry, and more compassionate and understanding. I try not to get angry and criticize people who don’t believe what I believe.  I know they are who and what they are because of how they have been raised and the culture in which they live. 

We tend to be critical of individuals with beliefs and lifestyles different than ours, thinking, “What is wrong with them? Can’t they see?” But we only know what we know, and we stay in the culture that supports what we know.  For example, generational poverty. “It is so easy,” we say. “Go to school and get a job!” But when you’ve been raised in a culture where dropping out of school, and maybe doing drugs and committing crime, is the norm, that is what you know and understand – you are comfortable there. Stepping out of that is a scary, unknown place. So, you stay in the culture you understand. 

I had a funny experience recently that reminded me that being judgmental is all about perspective. I was making my bed and the sheets were so wrinkled I found myself thinking, “Gosh, maybe I’ll send them to the laundry to be washed and pressed.” And then I recalled nearly 20 years ago being incensed when someone whose house I was staying in for a weekend, said for me to be sure to take the sheets to the laundry to be washed and pressed. I remember thinking, “That’s ridiculous! Why would anyone think sheets needed to be pressed? Such a waste of money!” My perspective at the time was, that’s not how money should be spent, because I had so little money. Twenty-years later, when I have the money to pay someone to wash and iron my sheets if I want to, it sounds like a pretty nice idea. Silly, simple, but a personal reminder of how perspective shapes everything, and we need to be careful about judging others.

I occasionally give graduating seniors an upside-down map of the world, with the inscription “It’s all about perspective. Get some.” As you can see below, this different perspective changes everything. The US and Mexico look so tiny, and the Russian Federation and Canada look huge, yet we do not typically think of them that way. 

So, what I want to say to my children and grandchildren is that what something looks like all depends on where you are standing. Don't be critical or judgmental of people who believe differently from you, because you have not lived their life and you do not have their perspective.

Perspective is everything. 

Cluster Critiques

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen: A Novel by Sarah Bird

One of my book clubs was fantastically honored to have the esteemed author of our November book choice, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, Sarah Bird, with us. Sarah brought the subject of the book to life for us - Cathay Williams, the freed slave and descendant of an African queen, who at the end of the Civil War disguised herself as a man to become one of the famed Buffalo SoldiersIn response to the many questions from the group, Sarah gave a mesmerizing account of why she had to write the book, that goes back decades to her experience as a  journalist covering African American rodeos, and to her reoccurring encounter with the “myth” of Cathay Williams, who Sarah eventually discovers, really existed. Sarah’s amazing grace at so accurately capturing the culture, dialect and history of Cathay Williams’ story is humbling. I cannot recommend Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen highly enough, and I encourage you to listen to the audible version, read by Bahni Turpin, as it is one of my all-time favorite audible books. Here’s a sample.

God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State by Lawrence Wright

Wright’s narrative about all things Texan spans generations, eras and perceptions, providing justification for those of us who believe Texas and Texans are unique and special, and equally for those who believe Texas and Texans are backwards and arrogant. But it principally provides a “behind the fence” and somewhat personal perspective on Texas historical and political issues we thought we’d heard all there was to hear about, like the Kennedy assassination in Dallas, the romantic myth of cowboys, and the migration of Texas from the LBJ blue state, to the reddest state in the union - Austin being the paradoxical liberal bubble referred to by state legislators as "the spore of the California fungus that is destroying America." After a lifetime witnessing the horrors and charms of Texas, Wright admits he can’t give her up, and his book title, “God Bless Texas,” is what Texans are prone to say when they don’t have anything nice to say. 

God bless “God Bless Texas.” 

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

I cringed when Esther’s Follies icon, Shannon Sedwick, announced that our September book club choice, Less, was a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. What would it say about me if I didn’t like it? I don’t have “Pulitzer-level intellect or sensibilities?” So, I went into the book determined to be “worthy,” and fortunately was charmed immediately, in spite of the main character, Arthur Less, being an uncharming, recently jilted, over-the-hill, perpetually depressed and grumpy guy. What made Less entertaining was author Andrew Sean Greer’s superior writing and sharp humor, and the unexpected relatability I had with “Mr. Grumpy,” who struggled with his collapsing physique (yep, get it), his fed-up-ness with the world in general (yep, get it), and his inability to stop giving a shit (yep, totally get it). Terrified of running into friends offering condolences for his recent lost boy-toy, Arthur jets off to one disaster after another, proving it can get worse. Pulitzer material? Yep. 

Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes by Nathan H. Lents

This may end up being one of my favorite books of the year, but you would probably hate it – that is unless you are intrigued by things like evolution being described as a disaster moving at the pace of molasses, and humans characterized as the deadliest species in the annals of extinction. Actually, this is a funny and informational book about how screwed up (physically and mentally) humans are because of the inefficiencies of evolution: bad knees, allergies, mental illness, and those are the simple things. And it makes total sense when you consider that it takes generations to correct a genetic error- assuming the stars and genes happen to align just right. Challenges and flukes it seems should have been weeded out years ago through natural selection hang on petulantly, creating a never-ending laundry list of health issues for us. Human Errorsis a fun albeit somewhat bleak look at how screwed up we and evolution are.

Educated by Tara Westover

This book reinforced my theory that people stay in really bad situations because that choice is less scary than going into the unknown. Tara Westover is one of seven kids born to a fundamentalist Mormon family living off the grid in Idaho, which is not necessarily the reason her life is chaotic and dangerous, but rather is just the setting of her very chaotic and dangerous childhood. Due to religious zealotry, Westover’s family is a sociological nightmare. Her father is a rigid fatalist, seemingly determined to make life miserable for everyone in the family, and mom is gut-wrenchingly compliant - to the point of endangering her children over and over again. And although the father is an intellectual (author Westover eventually becomes a professor at Cambridge in spite of never attending public school), his machoism and religious beliefs are lethal – particularly contaminating his sons, one of which is very dangerous, and always a threat to the author. And yet in spite of the horror show at home, Westover cannot seem to break away from her family and her past, putting the reader though a painful, ongoing struggle, making me want to scream out, “You can’t save them. Save yourself!” Educated is both an inspiring and irritating tale demonstrating how religion zealotry is a form of mental illness, how children manage to survive horrific environments, and how blood is indeed incredibly thick. 

The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do about Them) by Lucy Jones

Lucy Jones is called the “earthquake lady” and one of the most highly regarded seismologist of our generation. Her purpose in writing this book was to put into context the reality of disasters – earthquakes, floods, volcanos, tsunamis, and how we tempt fate by living in their crosshairs – specifically noting that San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, Phoenix, and the St. Louis area are doomed. She also very interestingly shows how previous disasters have significantly changed the social dynamics of the cities in their wake, Japan (women, for the first time took control), Iceland (90% of the population was wiped out), Italy (civil order greatly enhanced). Her other purpose was to say as strongly as possible, “They’re coming. If you are in their path, leave.” She’s not a hysteric. She’s a realist. I listened to the audio book and found Jones’ reading very dry, so I can’t recommend that. However, if you are fascinated by the threat of natural disasters, or how society’s that have survived (or not) natural disasters coped (or didn't), The Big Ones is as good as it gets. 

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

I’m inexplicably mesmerized by British sensibility, so I loved Kate Atkinson’s new book, Transcription,which hops around time-periods, but is primarily set in London during WWII. Eighteen-year-old Juliet Armstrong is recruited to transcribe recorded conversations between a network of British Nazi sympathizers called the "fifth column," and British M15 agents posing as German spies. There’s a plot and numerous interesting characters, but honestly the only thing I seemed to be able to latch onto was Juliet’s (Kate’s) ongoing asides, which were so delicious I found myself waiting for them. Here are a few of my favorites.  

“Juliet could still remember when Hitler had seemed like a harmless clown. No one was amused now.” 

“The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel,”

“Perhaps sex was something you had to learn and then stick at until you were good at it, like hockey or the piano. But an initial lesson would be helpful.”

“The blame generally has to fall somewhere, Miss Armstrong. Women and the Jews tend to be first in line, unfortunately.” 

“Why was it that the females of the species were always the ones left to tidy up. … I expect Jesus came out of the tomb … and said to his mother, ‘Can you tidy it up a bit back there?”

“Do not equate nationalism with patriotism. Nationalism is the first step on the road to Fascism.” 

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

I alternately wanted to throw this book across the room, and binge read it. The Great Alone is about a family of three, Cora, Ernt and their daughter Leni. Ernt (a former Vietnam POW with PTSD) inherits land in Alaska and mistaking it for a solution to his increasing spells of violence, drags his family to a remote and primitive wilderness. Instead of a new start, the trials of living in the Alaskan outback speed up Ernt’s unraveling, until he becomes so unstable that, well, let’s just say things fall apart. Cora is a pitiful codependent enabler, and Leni is stuck in the middle as the tension builds and builds. Author Hannah has a talent for making you need to know what happens next. I was exhausted by the time this very long book ended, but not sorry I read it – like I had a choice after about page 50!   

Saturday, July 14, 2018

100 Things I Want to Tell My Children and Grandchildren, #29

Being right feels good for 15 minutes.

(Me and the hubby - learning to survive together)

You get into an argument with your wife, husband, partner or employer about something relatively simple. It starts out calm with logic examples, corrections, polite tone of voice. But at some point, when neither of you are willing to back down, compromise, admit your wrong or simply agree to disagree, the argument escalates to shouting, name-calling, and ugly, graphic itemizations of every perceived  wrong that ever occurred between the two of you. 

You are right, and you know you are, and you’re not going to back down. It’s a matter of principle. You need to stand up for yourself, to take a stand. 

But what happens after doors are slammed, tears are shed, and silence laced with “I’ll show you,” or “we’re done” cast a black shadow over the heart of your relationship, rendering the original point irrelevant, and sometimes even forgotten.  Words are said that can never be unsaid. The hurt damages a place in our heart that is irreparable. Regret, resentment, confusion, anger, hate or fear threaten to displace love, acceptance, forgiveness, and compromise, creating a nauseating disorientation of your relationship.  The damage is done, and undoing the damage may be impossible. Relationships may dissolve into codependent resentment and desperate attempts to reclaim respect and love. Love relationships and marriages end causing heartbreak that impacts many people. Rock-solid friendships you thought were permanent dissolve with a whimper. You are fired from your job causing terrible hardships on you and your family, possibly damaging your ability to get another job.

So, before you get into an emotional battle with someone, take a nano-second to assess the worth of standing your ground (pick your battles VERY carefully). I’m not talking about saying you’re wrong when you know you are right. I’m talking about walking away, agreeing to disagree, compromising, or trying to resolve the conflict under less emotional terms. 

Being right feels good for 15 minutes, while the damage inflicted can last a lifetime.