Sometimes there are good things about head colds. I am sure I contracted Thing 2’s mold induced virus last Friday, sneezing constantly, my head pounding like a Chinese gong. I had zero on my social calendar so indulged in the luxury of taking to my bed. Glorious, ‘twas. I worked on Friendship Maintenance, calling Ms. Dela in Houston , Smartalec Angela in Indy, and Lady Tea in Canada . MCV also co-ordinated a 3 way boogie chat with me and Princess Ai Lin. As I was calling Princess AL up the road, MCV was calling PAL at the same time on Vonage. C’est manifique, ce Vonage.
Ms. Dela, a friend from my Mexico days, works in a boutique bookshop and therefore is an excellent source of reading material. I generally rely on Ms. Dela, Flaky Friend, and my mother and sisters to inform my reading choices. Ms. Dela and I confabulated at length about friends in common, hot reads, and needlepointing. Her recommendations are listed below.
Later, I jumped into a bubblebath with Amy Tan. Well, her latest book, The Opposite of Fate, to be precise. I had purchased it this past summer in preparation for my move to China, to read her thoughts on the writing life. I cried eyes out in the first chapter but could not put the book down, much to the dismay of my sinus passages.
Alighting from my tub, I immediately re-Googled Amy Tan and found her blog on new website called Redroom.Com. You probably have to be a Democrat to be a sponsored author but since half of my readership leans left, by all means submit your manuscripts and/or enjoy the reading. Many famous authors have blogs there. I left an inane and inartful comment on Amy’s. Having said this, there are a few.
Things Amy Tan and I have in common:
1) we are both dragons!
2) Both attended Cal Berkeley at some point during educational careers
3) Have multiple freaky coincidence stories
4) She’s married to a lawyer; I have a law degree and license to practice
5) She had a cat – I have two! We also have small dogs.
6) She’s an American of Chinese descent – I live in China !!
7) Neither one of us likes crab
Really, the list could go on and on …
Since I have neither a jot nor tittle published, I cannot have my own Famous Author Page on redroom.com. Herewith, however, is my very own What I’ve Read Lately or Am Reading column, including title, author/writer, opinion, origin of acquisition, and other drivel):
Digging to America : Anne Tyler (loved this book, bought myself. She always has one perfect line(s) that I carry with me the rest of my life. See p. 181. Both Ms. Dela and I agree that the first sentence of Back When We Were Grownups is that book’s golden nugget.)
Broken For You: Stephanie Kallos (passed on by friend, greatly enjoyed book set in Seattle ; slightly tidy ending).
Water For Elephants: Sarah Gruen (passed on by friend, current book club choice, may have to read a second time it was so good and I rarely, if ever, do that. It’s like being inside your grandparents’ heads. Ringling Bros. was my grandfather’s favorite).
The Bible: Karen Armstrong (fascinating read about origins of Bible, Mr. Understanding selected as gift for Christmas; Ms. Armstrong is world-class, serious scholar on all subjects religious; you will be surprised).
On Chesil Beach : Ian McEwan (really a novella, he is the master of You Should Not be Surprised Ending But You Are, Damn It! Bought it for myself in HK).
Plotting for Beginners: A Novel of New Beginings: Sue Hepworth & Jane Linfoot (passed on by mother; Ms. Hepworth sometimes comments on my mother’s blog; very fun UK pick about the writing life, menopause, and unwieldly husbands).
Chinese Symbolism: CAS Williams (antique dealer in HK had so I found and bought; very informative for those into Chinese art).
Fodors: Beijing & Shanghai
Luxe Guide: Beijing
Here are Ms. Dela’s Hot Read Recommendations:
The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield
The Island by Victoria Hislop
Away by Amy Bloom
Escaping into a book is just about the only way I know how to leave my cursed house. In times of trouble, I evaporate into a book, denying whatever circumstances clawing at me a solid hold. I read a Richard Russo book after the birth of each Thing. Fortunately, Straight Man, Russo’s shortest book, was right after Thing 3 was delivered; my reading time had been further curtailed. I am waiting, with bated breath, for my father to bring me Bridge of Sighs in March, so if you are a sister, finish reading up. It will be just in time to help me get over the fatigue of moving to a new house in Greenstone Glama Villas.
Ms. Tan quotes an ancient Chinese proverb in her book, “If you cannot change your fate, change your attitude.” I thought about this a lot sobbing about my fate in the bathtub, exacerbating my thudding headache and gritty eyeballs. Would moving be a temporary panacea or am I just a chronic complainer, permanently wracked with rigidity, perfectionism, and pessimism?
The next morning I brewed myself a cup of Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Spice tea and there on the box was the same Chinese proverb. Was it a sign?
The Valentines will be late this year, my friends. If the Kitchen God allows, I will move before Chinese New Year. Quite possibily in a snow storm, with the help of one Mr. Tan (no joke), a nice young man from my home state of California . I will miss Trotskinha* and all my newfound friends at Glama Villas but I can’t wait to send you my new address. I am changing our fate. The American in me can’t help it.
*new nickname – Portuguese for little (feminine) Trotsky