Grams

Happy_Birthday_GramsToday would have been my Grams’s 93rd birthday. I went to call her and then I remembered that she wouldn’t answer the phone. She died last October. I do that frequently, pick up the phone to call her — or just think, “Gee, I wonder how Grams is doing? I need to call her.” And then I remember that Grams is doing just fine. She’s with my Grandpa, whom she missed terrible, just like I miss her now.

Happy Birthday, Grams.

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Book Review – My Dark, Sordid Past as a Heterosexual, First Destiny: The Autobiography of Dr. Zsuzsanna E. Budapest

My Dark, Sordid Past as a Heterosexual, First Destiny:  The Autobiography of Dr. Zsuzsanna E. Budapest

 

“I have been born many times.”

 

Thus begins Z.’s life story and she has had a fascinating life, rife with “Forrest Gump”- like moments. Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1940, Z. offers an eyewitness account of life before and after World War II and the Hungarian revolution. She enjoyed privilege as a young child only to have it all snatched away by war. She became a political refugee after narrowly escaping a massacre at a political protest she had intended to attend. After that, she left her home in Hungary and made her way across Europe, finally emigrating to the United States. And that is where her adventures really begin.

Z. tells her story in her own playfully mischievous way. As I read this book, I could imagine those blues eyes of her twinkling as she told her stories. She hides nothing and for some, parts of this book may be wickedly ( and delightfully) shocking. I have had the privilege of meeting Z. on several occasions and being in her presence makes one just feel happy. Reading this book gives me almost the same feeling. Knowing the story of her early life makes me anticipate the next decades when she began founding the Women’s Spirituality Movement, including her arrest and trial for tarot reading that changed the law of the land for the better.

I am looking forward to reading the next installment. If Z.’s first destiny is the appetizer, the main course is going to be amazing.

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Book Review: The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

This was a disappointment. I expected better writing from a Harvard publication. I love Wonder Woman and this book does not honor the legacy. The prose was poorly wrought as if the author could not decide whether she was writing creative non-fiction or a scholarly piece. There are discrepancies in the narrative which are subtle, yet discordant enough to distract the reader. The connections and conclusions drawn by the author are tenous to the point of mere conjecture rather than fact. I gave this book two stars instead of one because 1) the cover is gorgeous and 2) there is a bibliography that I may use to do my own research.

I am glad I checked this out from the library instead of purchasing it as I had originally intended. Wonder Woman and her creator deserve better.

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My dear, dear friend

(Disclaimer: This post will contain a higher number of typos than usual because my eyes keep going all blurry.)

I have a degree in English from one of the top tier universities in this country, if not the world. I have had three novels published, sold some stories and have a pretty well-developed vocabulary, and yet, today, I am at a loss for words. One of the finest human beings I have ever known is leaving this world for the next. It is imminent and I cannot stop it, though I am selfish enough to want to do. My friend Debbie is the kindest and most generous person I have ever known. She gifted me with love and friendship. She has taken in more “strays” – including me – than any shelter.  She has always thought of others before herself, given instead of taken. She has always been there for me when I needed her. I can only hope she would say the same of me; I hope I have never let her down or taken her for granted. I don’t think I have, but she wouldn’t have told me if I did because Debbie always puts others’ feelings first.

 

We have bonded over shared experiences over the last (almost) quarter of a century. Like the time we were in Las Vegas, we stayed up all night at the Four Queens. Debbie turned two dollars in to four hundred and we went back to the hotel, picked up Louise, her daughter, and went to breakfast at Circus, Circus. Midnight trips to Walmart were the norm because that was only time she get away to do her shopping. I was game; Debbie was fun to be around. We shared cups of coffee; copious amounts of coffee, in fact. I wrote my first novel on her computer while she slept in the bed next to me, then I would quietly shut it down and drive home. When I had enough of the situation I was in at home, she took me in – and, I have no doubt, caught flak from her family for it. But Debbie did what her heart told her to do and she always made her decisions according to her own conscience and no one else’s.

 

I remember riding in the van with her one day shortly after meeting her. She drove around this parking a couple of times. I didn’t know her well enough to ask what she was doing, but them she went through the McDonald’s drive through (though it may have been a Wendy’s; it’s been almost 25 years) and bought a hamburger. She drove around that same parking lot and then stopped and then I saw the homeless man. Deb rolled down her window and asked him, “Have you eaten today?” Then she handed the man the bag of food and drove off. She was always doing that kind of thing. Debbie walked her walk. You knew she was a Christian, not because she went around talking about it or quoting her book or anything like that. You knew it because she lived the kind of faith that I think would make that gentle carpenter from Nazareth say, “Now THAT’S what I was talking about! Any questions, ask Debbie because she gets it.” Of course, Debbie would have humbly denied that.

 

I am not a Christian; I tried it once and it doesn’t suit me. Debbie never held that against me, never judged, but simply asked me questions about what I did believe because she loved me and was my friend, nodded, and accepted me just as I am. And continued to walk her walk and live her faith. I will never believe what she did, but I love her, my dear, dear friend and, if I may presume, my sister of the heart, and because I love her, I will try to honour her memory by trying to be as kind and as generous as she was. I will never be as good as she was, but I will try. I am so grateful I was able to tell her just how I feel about her a couple of months ago.

 

I love you, Deb. Miss your face.   

 

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Dr. Sleep by Stephen King: a review

The title is Dr. Sleep, but sleep was not what I wanted last night. I wanted more of Danny Torrance and his “shine.” You may remember Danny Torrance from The Shining. You may have wondered what happened to him after a haunted  — well, it was much worse than haunted, I suppose; more like possessed — hotel and its denizens tried to make his father kill him. I wondered. What would a kid who had been through something like be like as an adult?

“Things” which affected us in our childhood tend to follow us throughout our lives . Most of the time, these things are emotional or psychological. Sometimes they are those things and more. And sometimes they lead one, even as an adult, to even worse “things.” If one read The Shining, s/he knows about the things that affected little Danny:  an alcoholic and abusive father, a codependent, enabling mother, the pure-D evil at the Overlook hotel — which of these followed Danny into adulthood? And what new evil does the poisoned ground at site of the historic Overlook Hotel attract?

Dr, Sleep is one of King’s best novels in a very long time. It didn’t scare me as much as Salem’s Lot or It, but then no book has. But it did engage me to the point of being in the book and that has not happened for me for a very long time.  I confess, I am a Stephen King fan — I’d read his grocery list. Unfortunately, some of his more recent work has felt like that was, indeed, what I was reading. I couldn’t finish Lisey’s Story or Duma Key.  Gerald’s Game and The Gunslinger series held no interest for me. Under the Dome caught my interest, but then lost me abo.t halfway through; it was like an expanded variation of one of his short stories. It was the same with 11/22/63, though I did manage to finish it. “It” — that ineffable quality that allowed Mr. King to reach in and grab my heart and squeeze until the terror made my eyes pop — hasn’t been there for me in his work since I read It.

 

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m jaded, like a horror “junkie,” ever seeking the next “scare high” which simply cannot compare to that first time of feeling the hair raise on the back of your neck, the goose bumps rising, breath coming in short gasps as you will your heart to beat quieter, so “IT” that unamed and unnameable scary thing that will be watching, waiting … won’t hear it find you under the covers with your book and your dying flashlight.

 

I get that Mr. King may want to write something  more literary than  The Lawnmower Man. Anyone who has read  Misery and The Dark Half  could infer from the protagonists in those stories King’s own desire to be known for more than just horror. He certainly has the skill and the talent. His books, regardless of the subject, are just plain well-written.  For a while  though, it seemed that King had merely tossed in gory details as a substitute for true horror.

Then, a simple ghost story with a cover reminiscent of a gaudy, mid-20th century detective magazine hit the shelves. Joyland did indeed bring me joy. It was like reading a story he had written years ago. The quality of his older works was there. Now Dr. Sleep has completely brought back that ol’ time King feeling. The story is told from both Danny — now Dan — Torrance’s point of view and, I suspect, Mr. King’s own autobiographical voice here and there — some old fiends (no, that’s not a typo) and a new character which bears watching (since we know King recycles) I am hopeful that Mr. King has his horror groove back. And that my next fix will be in stores soon

 

 

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Book review: Summoning the Fates

I have taken classes in child development and have found the knowledge useful in raising my children and in various jobs dealing with children. Summoning the Fates by Zsuzsanna (“Z.”) Budapest is like a course on “adult development” and I have found it to be extremely useful as a guide in “raising” myself spiritually.

Z. introduces readers to the Fates, the Threefold Goddess. Apulius attributes the following statement to the goddess Isis, “All the gods are one God and all the goddesses are one Goddess and there is one Initiator.” That Initiator is the Fates, the first Triune deity. In my novel, The Amazon Queen, I wrote “Even the gods must have someone to pray to.” That someone is the Fates. Z.’s explanation of the role of the Fates, the Norns, the Morae is complete. The rituals in the book, especially those that can be performed “retroactively” are useful and are open to improvisation as needed. I particularly found the explanation of Saturn Return and the astrological references helpful and I certainly recognized events from my own life fitting with the divine “schedule” initiated and planned by the Fates for me.

Summoning the Fates is an entertaining read; history, wisdom, and ritual are intertwined with traditional fairy tales, anecdotes, and wisdom from the premiere Dianic Priestess, a founding mother of present day Goddess  Spirituality, but the wisdom contained in this book is not just for women; men, too can benefit from the guidance on dealing with destiny created by these three divine Ladies. I highly recommend Summoning the Fates.

ISBN:  0-609-80277-1

http://www.zbudapest.com/summoning-fates.html

http://www.amazon.com/Summoning-Fates-Womans-Guide-Destiny/dp/0609802771/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363025746&sr=1-2&keywords=summoning+the+fates

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Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Wishful Drinking

by Carrie Fisher

 

“I have to start by telling you that my entire existence could be summed up in one phrase. And that is: If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.” It is this notion that keeps me from feeling guilty about finding so much dysfunction in one person’s life hysterically entertaining. Well, that was Carrie Fisher’s intent in writing this, after all, to heal herself and why not entertain her audience while she’s at it? She is, after all, the daughter Hollywood royalty and now royalty in her own right as well – not only is she the daughter of iconic movie star, Debbie Reynolds, but now she herself is the newest “Disney Princess” as Princess Leia!  Both of these situations are humorously explored in this book. As such, it stands to reason that entertaining an audience comes as second nature to Ms. Fisher and she does it very well.

 

This is the first of Carrie Fisher’s books that I have read and let me just say, it is HILARIOUS! I laughed out loud until I lost my breath in several places. With just the written word, this woman conveys biting sarcasm and a sharp wit. She is also warm and clearly a loving person as evidenced by her description of her family and friends, particularly her mother, brother, and daughter.

 

This book is more than just a transcript of Fisher’s one woman show by the same title, although it does incorporate much of the same material.

I very highly recommend this book.

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