Tuesday, October 20, 2020



WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger. I will write this carefully, because I don't want to give anything away. Of course, I'm pretty early into this thriller, and it's so twisty I'm not 100% sure of what I'd be giving away!

Selena is mom of two boys who just returned to work because her husband lost his job. She finds out through the nanny cam that instead of looking for employment he's ... um ... "enjoying" their daycare provider. Selena impulsively shares this with the stranger she finds herself next to on the 7:45 PM train home. That woman reciprocates by saying she feels trapped in an affair with her boss. It's the kind of sharing that's more comfortable with someone you're sure you'll never see again. The stranger muses that it would be nice if all their problems could just "go away." It seems like an innocuous comment. Then, Selena's nanny actually does disappear. What's going on here?
I admit I chose this book for its cover -- a moody illustration of a woman through the window of a train. I love train travel and I miss my old, pre-covid life, which included a commute every workday, where I did my reading. I'm enjoying this story, and know it will inspire many a fantasy when I once again find myself riding the rails.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  My Girls, by Todd Fisher. Todd's "girls" were mother Debbie Reynolds and sister Carrie Fisher. Confession: I'm not a Star Wars fan nor a Debbie Reynolds fan. But I always admired Carrie's writing, wit and courage in sharing her bipolar diagnosis. I looked forward to reading about her by the one who knew her best and knew her longest, her little brother, Todd.

It's a fascinating book. He was famous before he was born, the child of America's Sweethearts. One of his stepmothers was the most beautiful and notorious woman in the world, Elizabeth Taylor. Staff outnumbered the residents in his childhood home. Todd gave me a glimpse into a life I'd never know otherwise.

But at times I was annoyed. As Carrie often said, her family wore their underwear on the outside, meaning Debbie, Carrie and now Todd all had a penchant for oversharing. Because of Todd's candor, it became obvious that he chose his family of origin -- especially his mother -- over the family he was building. I was shocked and disappointed by Todd's apparent insensitivity to his wife Christi as she dealt first with alcoholism and then with cancer, and he was always racing to Las Vegas to be at Debbie's side and help her with her ongoing financial and marital travails. 

Oh, well. I'm not sorry I read it. It was lovely to spend time with the exasperating and extravagantly talented Carrie again, and I'm grateful that her brother shared her essence in this memoir.

 3. What will read next? I've always wanted to read A Night to Remember. Written back in the 1950s, Walter Lord's well-respected chronicle of the last hours of the Titanic is still considered the gold standard. Now I may finally get to it.

Pick up your damn phone!

I love my friend John. We have been friends for 39 years. The hallmark of our relationship is that we tend to take each other as we are. We're comfortable. But as time goes on, I find myself getting angrier with him more often. Because I don't think HE values himself as much as I do. 

For example, in 2016 he lost a toe to diabetes. This did not happen overnight. We're talking about months of showers where he looked down at his numb and discolored toe and ignored it because he didn't want to get bad news. In 2019, he was advised about a defibrillator. Then in fall, he lost his job and his insurance and has done nothing to pursue it. He turned 65 this year so he has Medicare, but you know ... a defibrillator is complicated and not fun.

Naturally I worry about him during this pandemic. He's 65, he's diabetic, and he has a bad heart. And there are plenty of assholes who aren't careful about masks and social distancing and they put my loved ones at risk.

So I'm sooooo mad at him that he willingly goes weeks without answering his phone. Really, we talked, emailed and saw one another all the time before before the corona virus. Now that his health could be compromised every time he walks out his front door, he chooses to go "off the grid."

I believe he still goes to his favorite local bar every night to eat, drink wine and watch TV from his designated socially-distanced corner table. But tonight it's rainy and 55ยบ. There's no more outdoor seating. Drink wine and watch TV at home, for Christ's sake!

And return calls! This week we've all scolded him -- me, Gregory, his cousin Lori -- because he's gone two full weeks without calling any of us. It also bugs me that he's screening us. That he picks up his phone, looks at it, and says, "Oh, it's her," and puts the phone back down, unanswered.

I appreciate that this virus has us all rattled and our moods can be unpredictable. I get how depressing it is to turn on the news and hear Trump airing his special blend of conspiracies and grievances. I also understand and embrace personal freedom and the desire to interact on one's own terms.. But John doesn't have the right to frighten us. 

I think we have a responsibility to the people who love us.