Let's Talk About Books Baby!

May

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Books Read

Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game by Abby Wambach (Audible)

Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco (Audible)

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

May saw more of the same vibes as April for me mood wise. One thing is for sure is I need to do these book recaps way faster than I have been because I’m not remembering as much at this time, but the name of my game lately is procrastination and lack of motivation…. so, what can I do?

Let’s delve in… shall we?

Can I first say that I dream of being the Glennon someday to an Abby?! I LOVE them. One a formerly straight writer, and the other the woman that showed her a new way to love and together they are this awesome force- activists, and real life LOVE WARRIORS! This is my dream. They have a motto in their house- “Coffee & Revolution”. And they make real change. A girl can dream.

So… some of you may know that I’ve had this weird obsession with wolves for the past few years- maybe it was Game of Thrones, maybe it’s because I’ve been trying to get in touch with that nature loving wild woman that I believe probably resides in most of us. The one that was alive before they called us witches and the woman in my lineage who howled at the mother fucking moon, and used herbs to heal all things, the wombyn before all the sacred wounds- before the ovary issues, before the sexual harassment at work, before the abandonment.. (And I don’t say wombyn to be exclusive of transgender women, that is not my intent). I say it as in the creator, the mother of all things… Women who run with…

Wolves.

So yeah, Abby’s new book was calling to me: Wolfpack.

And it’s a quick read, but it is sooooooo good! I listened to the bulk of it on a long rainy drive (my favorite kind)- when you intentionally slow down, the sky is dark, and you can just wear your favorite hoodie and be cozy AF not in a hurry to get anywhere). Abby’s premise is, “You were never Little Red Riding Hood, you were always the wolf.” And she has 8 rules for all of us ladies to change the game of life FOREVER:

  1. Create Your Own Path

  2. Be Grateful for what you have AND Demand what you Deserve

  3. Lead now- from wherever you are.

  4. Failure means you’re finally IN the game.

  5. Be FOR each other.

  6. Believe in yourself. Demand the ball.

  7. Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders.

  8. You’re Not Alone. You’ve Got Your Pack.


For each one of her rules she gave a personal story from her life. For instance I really liked the story that went along with rule #2. The year Abby retired from Soccer, two other professional athletes retired from their respective games: Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant. The three of them were honored at the ESPY’s, and Abby spent the night basking in her gratitude. She just felt SO grateful to be honored with these two guys, and suddenly a thought struck her as they left the stage. She realized they were each heading into VERY different retirements… and it was all because Peyton and Kobe had been paid what they deserve whereas Abby (like most females, even high achieving ones) was not. And she realized how messed up that was, and now she’s an activist for women and their right to equal pay.

The whole book is stories like that and I’m grateful that it is a quick enough listen/read that I can revisit many times for inspiration! <3

The last book that I read for May started with a lovely date with myself. Every Wednesday this year I am using vacation time and leaving work early so that I can participate in my Ayurveda class. Well, this one particular Wednesday in May I took myself to a local Mexican Restaurant ordered a margarita, a smothered burrito and set my phone up against the basket of chips and plugged in my headphones and watched my class. It felt so nice to unwind and to take my time and to do it all alone. Well after that was done I headed down to a church in Denver where Tattered Cover was hosting a night with Ian McEwan. He was being interviewed by Helen Thorpe (a local author and former first lady of Colorado) about his new book, Machines Like Me. Every attendee also received a signed copy of the new book. I pretty much have read every book McEwan has written since I read Atonement in preparation of the movie in 2007. I’ve missed a couple, perhaps on years that I decided to read one of his oldies instead (I mean he practically comes out with a book every other year), and I try to read one every year (not always, but it’s a goal- I’d like to read all of his works before I die- so there you have it- something to live for in case you were wondering what the point of my life is like I have been).

Had I not attended this evening with one of my favorite authors I might have skipped this book just based on the sounds of it. A guy gets an opportunity to buy one of the first limited editions of Adam & Eve’s (lifelike robots). He gets an Adam- and this is the story of how that goes. Watching a robot assimilate to the real world and some of the ramifications that come from that. If something is so life like that some people can’t even tell the difference- does it have rights? Does it count as cheating if it sleeps with your girlfriend?

Anyway, the conversation was brilliant and sophisticated. And the book was better than I had hoped for it to be.

Nights like that one- those are what are fueling me these days. I have to tell you by the end of May I found myself longing more and more to return to the Karstee of yesteryears. The girl who would get lost in books and stories, and they were all she needed to live and be happy.

I’m sure the real way to be in this world is a little bit of that Karstee, the bookworm- but a little bit of that Karstee that had just found yoga, and was just beginning to toy with the idea of writing. The Karstee who had hope and was grateful that she was waking up from the long coma. The Karstee before she saw herself as a massive “to do” list, a bunch of qualities that need to be changed before she could be worthy.

I’m trying to find the sweet spot. My happiness depends on it.

Let’s Talk About Books Baby!

 April

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Books Read

Life Will Be the Death of Me… And You Too! by Chelsea Handler (audible)

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (audible)

Counting Descent by Clint Smith III

As the weather took a turn towards a bit more warmth I found myself getting more audible reading done than anything else. I’ve been trying to incorporate a nightly walk and it was going pretty successful in April, May has been another story so far. But let’s dive in….

I love Chelsea Handler. I was excited for this book because I was curious what she has been up to since her Netflix show ended. This book just might be my favorite of all of hers, not because it is the funniest but because it is just so damn real. Turns out since her show ended Chelsea has been spending a lot of time on her therapist’s couch, a thing I can relate to. Chelsea was trying to figure out how to heal herself, she was processing her traumas. She also eats a lot of oranges, proving even more that she is my kind of person.

My favorite chapter is the one called Moving Hillsides- it’s a particularly interesting conversation with her therapist about things like, her irritability, her ability to sleep for 24+hours, and her need to always input her opinion- basically why she just can’t shut the fuck up. He points out things to her about like how she’s been staying so busy so as to avoid having to actually sit with feelings and FEEL them- and they even get into how she is perpetually single and never gets serious with anyone because she can’t take experiencing loss again.

The chapter rang home. I think this year (2019) hasn’t been anything like what I expected it to be because on so many levels I’m finally being forced to just be alone. Everyone has had kids, or found their person and on most days in Boulder my life is just me. I eat lunch alone, I go home alone, I go on walks alone, I cook and eat dinner alone. One thing I had gotten really good at before was filling my calendar to the brim with people to go to dinner with or go to yoga with- and all those people have moved into new phases of life. And so here I am. Alone, and feeling the shit out of my feelings. And it’s depressing.

So yeah, Chelsea’s book resonated. I highly recommend it for anyone who has ever been through a season of profound sadness. And maybe buy a bag of oranges to go along with it, they will make you feel better.

Next up was David Sedaris- I went really big on audible books in April because I was really trying to make going on evening walks a priority. All I really remember about this one was that it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. This is supposed to be classic, vintage Sedaris, right? Perhaps I need to give it a listen again sometime when my brain doesn’t feel like it was in a thick fog. This was the month that I decided to take myself off of anti-depressants. I can readily admit that I was not the most focused human in April, I was mostly only focused on how shitty I felt. It’s decided- someday I will re-listen to this book.

And lastly, Clint Smith III. I LOVE Clint Smith III on the Pod Save the People podcast. His deep voice, his intellect, his awareness about all things regarding human rights. And then you add into the mix that he writes for The New Yorker Magazine and writes poetry. Is this guy for real? So, April is National Poetry Month and coincidentally Write Bloody Publishing was holding a contest. Send proof of purchase of a book from one of their poets (à la Clint Smith III) and send in 10 poems that you wrote and you could be chosen to have your own book of poetry published and go on tour performing your poems. Such was my state of mania that I literally spent like my last 15 dollars in April on Clint Smith III’s book thinking that if I just submitted these 10 poems (that I hadn’t even written yet) that surely I would be picked and then my whole life would change. I could leave behind my thankless job, I could leave behind the woman I still carry a torch for, I could leave behind all these people that make me feel less than I am. I would show everyone. I would be on tour promoting my book. So like Carrie Bradshaw I bought poetry instead of food, I just felt this would sustain me more.

Well…. Clint Smith III’s poetry is beautiful and profound, and after reading it I realized how little I know about poetry or suffering. How little I have to say. And sadly, the message that my work beats into me everyday, that I’m not enough… began to play on overdrive. And all I could picture was me having one of my hard days, one of the days when I can’t even get up. When I just want to cry.

Could you see me performing a poem on a day like that? I couldn’t either.

Let’s Talk About Books Baby!

 March

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Books Read

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn

The Parade by Dave Eggers

On a cozy March snow day, the bomb cyclone to be precise… I curled up with this book that is totally not something I would usually read but it came highly recommended and so I wanted to check it out. Why would I not read this book? Well, because it’s mostly a man and a gorilla having a conversation. But, why was this book so awesome? Because the conversation they had is SO important and relevant, and this is from a book that was written 25 years ago!

“”In your cultural prison what inmates wield the power?”

“Ah,” I said. “The male inmates. Especially the white male inmates.”

“Yes, that’s right. But you understand that these white male inmates are indeed inmates and not wardens. For all their power and privilege- for all that they lord it over everyone else in the prison- not one of them has a key that will unlock the gate.”

“Yes, that’s true. Donald Trump can do a lot of things I can’t, but he can no more get out of the prison than I can. But what does this have to do with justice?”

“Justice demands that people other than white males have power in the prison.”

“Yes, I see. But what are you saying? That this isn’t true?”

“True? Of course it’s true that males- and, as you say, especially white males-have called the shots inside the prison for thousands of years, perhaps even from the beginning. Of course it’s true that this is unjust. And of course it’s true that power and wealth within the prison should be equitably redistributed. But it should be noted that what is crucial to your survival as a race is not the redistribution of power and wealth within the prison but rather the destruction of the prison itself.”

“Yes, I see that. But I’m not sure many other people would.”

“No?”

“No. Among the politically active, the redistribution of wealth and power is...I don’t know what to call it that would be strong enough. An idea whose time has come. The Holy Grail.”

“Nonetheless, breaking out of the Taker prison is a common cause to which all humanity can subscribe.”

I shook my head. “I’m afraid it’s a cause to which almost none of humanity will subscribe. White or colored, male or female, what the people of this culture want is to have as much wealth and power in the Taker prison as they can get. They don’t give a damn that it’s a prison and they don’t give a damn that it’s destroying the world.”

Ishmael shrugged. “As always, you’re a pessimist. Perhaps you’re right. I hope you’re wrong.”

“I hope so too, believe me.””

Isn’t that astounding? I hope you are just as baffled by this as I was!

Anyway… the next book that I read was Dave Eggers’ latest. And per usual, it was a good read that makes us ponder a modern day issue, it is so simple in its telling that it almost reads like a parable. In this book two contractors from an undisclosed country are paving a road in another undisclosed country, even the two characters names are never given and instead they go by Four and Nine, the premise being that they would be less likely to be kidnapped and held for ransom if the locals can’t figure out who they are. Many reviewers have criticized the book for all the anonymity and claim that the book doesn’t go into all of the real issues that it is asking us to think about, I disagree.

In the book Four & Nine are both in this country to do one thing: pave a road that will connect two parts of a war torn nation. They both have extremely different personalities. Four is all business and keep your eyes on the goal, he toes the party line and really thinks of nothing besides doing what’s best for the company that sent them there. Nine on the other hand wants to mingle with the locals, eat their cuisine, sleep with their women. He is there to celebrate their culture and live it up. Through their story we are brought to think about the role of the western world in non-developed nations- do we do more harm than good? Is money a motivating factor? Can we make a difference? And if so, what kind of difference do we make?

Some have said that Eggers’ is answering these questions with a hopeless demeanor. But I think rarely is foreign policy black or white. There are always shades of grey and things can rarely be answered definitively. I think all Eggers is doing is asking us to think about these things. I really liked his interview with the publisher which was posted on McSweeney’s. https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/an-interview-with-dave-eggers-about-his-new-novel-the-parade

Happy Reading!