Woke Up To The Sound Of Pouring Rain and Boston Strong

Book Club, Music To My Ears

Last week I got three books. I started reading all of them pretty much simultaneously. My attention span is getting shorter as I age. I believe the expression is shorter than the gnat’s ass.  And that’s pretty small.  However Urban dictionary also says a gnat’s ass could be considered a near perfect measurement.  As close as one can get to exact aka being on the money.  

Here I’ll review two of the three books:

This morning I actually woke up to the sound of pouring rain. How coincidental that I am three quarters of the way through 18 and Life on Skid Row by Sebastian Bach.  The band was part of the soundtrack of my youth.  I learned how he played in clubs and other places to earn his due.  He did get a lucky break through a friend of a friend and connecting with Bon Jovi. By all rights he is respected Broadway actor.   For a birthday present many years ago, Billy and I saw Mr. Bach at the Majestic theater as the lead in the touring company of Jesus Christ Superstar. I learned he had other roles on TV.  I’m sure I’m the only one who has never seen him in Gilmore Girls. I’m sure I’m the only one who’s never watched a single episode of the Gilmore Girls. Now with the reboot I might have to check the show out. 

Anyway I’m always amazed at how someone can triumph over the shit they’re dealt. Part of me is surprised he still alive. As life gives me lemons I pucker up for a while. Then time passes and things get better.  Or things still suck but at least they change. The only thing that is constant in life is change.  Well change, death, and taxes.  My motisoperandi is to ride out any shit storm.  

If I feel moved to add to this review after I finish the remainder of the book, I’ll certainly do so.  For now, I’ll move on to the next gem. 

I finished Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova in the wee hours this morning.  I just couldn’t quit reading. This fictional family pulled me in. One of those stories ripped from the headlines.  Though not quite the same as a Law and Order episode because the end gave no neat tied with a bow answers.  Much like “real” life.  As opposed to the faux life we’ve been living.  

The patriarch of the Joe O’Brien family (a Boston strong policeman, blue collar townie) has Huntington’s disease like his mother before him.  Hers was mistakenly thought to be alcoholism at least by the townsfolk and her two children: Joe and his sister Maggie. Joe unknowingly passes Huntingtons on to at least to two of his four children.  His oldest, gene positive may or may not have passed Huntingtons to his firstborn son.  

This story moves gracefully along with many twists and turns. Ballet-like.  Read it and see how dance is included.  Dance as a metaphor for life.  Or maybe one could say the story moves along with several stops and starts and jerky movements similar to Huntingtons itself.  Like Huntington’s, the story is raw, gritty, and broken. Though there is no final scene of closure and we’re left to wonder what happens to this family, a sense of triumph remains.  One wonders, what would I do if faced with a deadly disease? Would I live life to the fullest to enjoy every moment of what’s left? Or would I jump off the Tobin bridge?  

Overcoming adversity is the theme of both of these books.  I recommend you read them and I hope in doing so you find encouragement.  As I conclude these reviews,  it’s storming outside.  We’ve lost the satellite signal.  We are preparing for the week and hunkering down as Stephen King would write. What better way to sign off than with a song.  I Remember You.  I hope you enjoy. 

As always, more to come. 

A Must Read – get your SH*T together by sarah knight 

Book Club

I have to say, Evelyn Wood would be proud!  And if you were born after 1970, you probably have no clue who Evelyn Wood was or is … if she is still alive.  I have no idea.    She may have even been a fictional character. 

Anyway Evelyn Wood had a method for speed reading.  Skipping the a, an, and the … and other little techniques to whip through whatever you needed to finish in a hurry.  I don’t like to speed read. I like to take a leisurely stroll.  And even when I read a single book in 24 hours, it’s because I don’t stop reading.   

I read for hours and hours and hours and hours in a row.  Last night B asks “Are you coming to bed?  Soon let me just get to the end of this chapter.    Which turns into the four chapters.  Followed by are you coming to bed yet?  To which I finally say sssshhhh  then No! Leave me alone!” He knows I love him even when I snap. Grrrr 🤣

Get your sh*t together is not a traditional self-help book. Because of that I can skip around and read chapters out of order and get little nuggets of gold to use or not as I see fit.  I love the author’s sarcastic wit thus far Sarah Knight is very good.  

She gives no magic serum.  No absolutes. Try it. like it. try it. don’t like.  Not made to feel like a failure because you don’t follow these golden rules of getting your metaphorical sh*t together.  

Her first book was aptly titled The life-changing magic of not giving a fuck. I think Billy Bob’s therapist took a line from that play book to help treat Billy.  Back in 2014, after he had his accident. You know the one where he almost died. You know the one where he says “quit saying that.” 

Well it’s true … he almost died. He was on some very heavy medication. From the beginning, they knew he was going to have to detox from it.   Doing so was planned and very heavily scripted … how many to take … over what period of time and then how to wean himself off.  Like a champ, he followed the orders explicitly. 

Though as one might imagine, detox was no picnic. And at that point in time he did see someone for a very brief maybe two or three week period. On day one, the therapist says to Billy “here’s how you deal with it when you start getting anxious and things are out-of-control, you just say fuck it!”   And that’s all it took.  Simple really.  For the rest of his life, from that day forward he goes about thinking “fuck this. fuck that. fuck you. and I don’t care”.  To date, he is the least anxious person I’ve ever known.  And I have known some pretty laid back mofo’s. Lol! 

Anyway I highly recommend you read the book and get your shit together.

As always, more to come.

Worth More Than Gold

Book Club

I’m not even sure in which category to drop this post. The teacher that Lulu is named after was Pony’s  second-grade teacher.  We had a different name all picked out and after a day in the hospital, we changed it. I don’t even remember why other than a surge of hormones taking over. Or some other such reason.  

Anyway, this teacher was wonderful. She had a little boy of her own about two years old. She was a working mother like we all were … struggling to get by. We would often talk and give each other parental advice.  What we shared in common was a LOVE of reading. She would often say books are worth more than gold.   

I wholeheartedly concur.  However Pony and I are the only readers in the family. Wise now too. But Lulu and Billy Bob haven’t touched a book just because in years.  Anyway one man’s trash is another man’s treasure as they say.  

Since I finished my library book a less than 24 hours, I went back to return it and get some more.  A kid in a candy store. I can never decide.   I’ve always had a very eclectic taste which makes deciding that much more difficult.   If liked but a single genre, it might be easy.  

Anyway today I went with a non-fiction biography,  a self-help, and a fictional story but based on real life disease of Huntington’s.  I actually know a lady in real life whose husband and both of her boys have the dreaded disease.  What she went through was unbelievable.  It is simply amazing that she was able to power through day after day.  We’ve lost touch over the last five years or so and I often wonder how things are going (if they are still going). 

So here’s what is on tap for my reading leisure. 


I really do need to get my sh*t together so I’ll start that one first!

As always, more to come.  

Book Review – You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

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With the opening of our new public library, I had to stop by and pick up a quick read. In less than 24 hours I completed You Will Know Me: A Novel by Megan Abbott.  

I will try not to give any spoilers here. Basically this is a story of competitive gymnastics and the human psyche. With several subplots as well. 

As a parent, I related because we all want the best for our children. And in the hard world of gymnastics or any competitive sport I imagine there are characters like the ones in this novel. Hell in real life there are helicopter moms and tiger moms and whatever other kind of moms – the Texas cheerleading moms … who will stop at nothing to help their children succeed. And it’s not just the mothers. Fathers take an equal part in some cases.  

I never ever wanted to be that parent who lived vicariously through my children. I succeeded somewhat. When he didn’t want to play baseball or she didn’t want to dance anymore, we stopped. Yet with every word and every motion, I cast a field of influence. Ones that I can’t take back. Things that I forced upon them without even really meaning to or knowing that I was doing it.  More on that for another day. Suffice it to say words can hurt. And once they’re out of your mouth you can’t ever take them back. My new motto is it’s better to be quiet than to say the wrong thing.

Anyhow, I do think I still want the best and would do whatever I could to help my kiddos.  If they needed my help that is. I’m only an outsider in their lives these days.  Feeling sorry for myself. Feeling unneeded. Feeling like a stranger in a strange land. To quote the title of a book by Robert Heinlein.  I jotted down this scene from You Will Know Me which captures my feelings perfectly. 

“Isn’t it a strange day”, she said, “when you realize you have no idea what is going on in your kids head? One morning you wake up and there’s an alien in your house. They look like your kid, sound a little like them but they are not your kid. They’re something else that you don’t know. And they keep changing. They never stop changing on you.”

To take it a step further, the proverbial question is:  Do we ever really know anyone? No. I don’t think we do. Hell we don’t even really know ourselves.  Until something dramatic happens and life kicks you in the gut,  then maybe you know what you’re capable of. Until you’re tested or experience a tragedy firsthand, it’s really hard to say what you’ll do or how you’ll react.  There but for the grace of God go I and all that stuff.  I’m not trying to make light of it.   I firmly believe that I’m capable of horrors my mind can’t even fathom.  All in the name of protecting my family. Or protecting myself maybe?

However I think I’d be that mom who turned my kid in if he/she ever did something illegal.  You do the crime you do the time.   Actions have consequences. And sometimes you have to learn that first hand. No one can do it for you.   

I hope I haven’t spoiled the book for anyone. I really didn’t give away much of the plot. I suggest you pick it up and read it. It’s a page turner for sure.  And you can see the subtleties in between the lines. As there were many themes along with the major storyline.  And questions of morality as well.  This book is full of things that make you go hmmmm.  🤔 

As always, more to come.

Captain Trips

Book Club, Music To My Ears

Billy Bob’s entire crew is down for the count.   The flu is rampant.  He is the only one well enough to work.  But alas it’s a rainy gray day in San Antonio Texas.  Can’t work outdoors in this weather. 

All around me, people are dropping like flies.   Like just now.  I am going to the break room for lunch; I pass the Admin who is telling two people “good-bye … hope you feel better” I hear one mumble  “thanks … achoo achoo achoo.   I hope so too”. 

Hmmm.  Innocent sneezes?  Maybe? Or maybe NOT!

As the turnstile spins open for me to enter and them to leave; I look over at the red noses and the watery eyes and overall  dour expressions.  Then I  <cough,cough,cough> 

Psychosomatic sympathy cough?  Maybe?  Or maybe NOT! And now my eyes are oozing and my nose is running. 

I automatically think Jilly, turnaround! grab your family and run for the gates!  You … not Charlie Campion could be the one who spreads Captain Trips. 😷😳

This little rabbit hole vignette is brought to you by the following:

1- This weather makes me crazy. 

2- I love SK. 

3-The Stand is a book I will read and reread again.

4- I’ve got way too much time on my hands.  No wait, that’s STYX.  Same era as 5. but not the song running through what’s left of my brain.

5-Instead it’s this song:  The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult – Also the Stand TV miniseries theme song. 

As always, more to come.

Finally … J-Dub’s Review of Revival by Stephen King 

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Based on Initial Thoughts and  There’s About To Be A Revival it’s clear I was pretty excited about this book.  I finished it a few days ago and have been unable to formulate a review until now.  I was hooked until the very end and then fizzle.  

This is fiction, I get that but seemingly realistic went far fetched at the end.   That was the disappointment for me.  I wanted answers and closure to the hereafter.  Then I stop and think how else could this be resolved.  What happens after life’s end remains a mystery. This version or any other for that matter would read fantastical.  

I still recommend a read.  I enjoyed the character depictions which created empathy and a feeling that I could actually know the Morton family and Charlie Jacobs aka theRev or Pastor Danny.  I was influenced by a few lines that hit close to home … they’re real gems and I will repeat them now:

Dick Morton: “reverend was right about one thing: people always want a reason for the bad things in life. Sometimes there ain’t one.”

While reading this I was blaming myself for how life turned out for someone else.  The guilt is overwhelming and sometimes I still feel to blame even though I know I can’t control anyone else or how they react to things life throws their way.  

“Sometimes death is natural, a mercy that puts an end to suffering. But all too often it comes as an assassin, full of senseless cruelty and lacking any vestige of compassion.”

Hmm let’s see CANCER sucks! Death by suicide.  The list goes on … losing my sister-in-law, two family friends, a coworker all before their time. I stop short of blaming 2016 but I will state a simple fact: 2016 was the year in which I experienced significant loss and pain. 

Claire was wild with envy. She wanted to see how the other half lives. “They live just like us dear” Mom said “whoever said the rich are different was wrong”. 

I can relate. Other people’s lives are seemingly perfection. Wondering how I stack up personally.  Which half am I in?

“Andy and Terry went into the kitchen to serve the Neapolitan, which we called van– choc – straw… Funny how it all comes back.”

For us growing up, green Kool-Aid was army juice.  Army juice was our van-ch0c-straw.  There are more examples that I can’t think of right now.  Do you have any?  If so, what are yours?

“That’s just the way your brother is built Jamie. He lives on his nerve endings, and when people do that, their minds can turn against them.… Frightened people live in their own special hell.”

Welcome to my world. Or as a man called Alice used to sing  “welcome to my nightmare.”

Jamie: “I’ve taken enough drugs to sink a battleship since then, but not even the best of them could equal that first rush. We were playing. They were dancing.”

This one really resonates with me! Some things are worth more than gold.  They cannot be quantified. What motivates us and why do we do the things we do?   In this line, being in a band and hearing the rush of the crowd was the high and motivation.  Even more powerful than drugs. What’s your motivation?   When you find that, you have the keys to the kingdom!

For anyone who makes it down this rabbit hole with me, thank you for staying.  I hope you have a wonderful day, week, month and year!

As always, more to come.

There’s About To Be A Revival 

Book Club

When I posted J-Dub’s Initial Thoughts on Revival by Stephen King I thought the story was going the way of Pet Sematary but boy was I wrong.  I’m now half way through and a big tent revival is about to start.  The anticipation is palpable… one might say electric ⚡️

My heart is pounding.  I read a review that says (and I’m paraphrasing) Revival is King’s darkest work yet.  I already had one “oh my lawd” moment in the story where Jaime Morton’s 5th element is affected in a deeply and life altering way.   Then later there’s a reference to another of SK’s books – Joyland.  Now that one is on my list of books to re-read.

I’m torn between continuing on cuz it’s SO good! Or quitting until the light of day.   I’m a little too keyed up to be sleepy.  I was under the weather and stayed in bed most of the day.  I’m going down the path of “having my days and nights mixed up”.  Something my mom always warned me about.  Her reader, night owl, baby girl.

I think I’ll try to sleep.  Tomorrow I can follow Billy Bob around and read while sitting next to him.  Always my protector.  Just in case the review is right, I’ll need the muscle. 😂

G’nite dear ones (or constant readers in the words of the master himself).

As always, more to come.

J-Dub’s Initial Thoughts on Revival by Stephen King

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First I assumed this story would be about revival … as in minister … as in big top tent … and therefore have a religious bent.  As I get through the first few chapters I think that this is heading down the road of Pet Sematary.  Now just hold on a minute! 

Too soon to tell but if that happens I will be pissed. As much as I love the grandmaster SK, it would be a regurgitation of something that was not even really his best work.  In my humble opinion of course … my two cents … worth a half a penny in today’s economy. 😂

Once I’m done, I will write a more comprehensive no spoiler review. 

As always, more to come. 📚 

J-Dub’s Book Review Of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman 

Book Club

I’ve had the book Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman for many months.  I even tried to give it back to Wise before I started reading it.  “No” she said.  “You keep it!  I’d like you to read it.  You’ll like it.  Read it for me”.  Still more months went by but then while on vacation this past week, I decided to relax and how better to relax than to escape with a good book. 

I’m so used to reading on the computer and my Kindle that having an actual hardcopy book in and of itself was a thrill … a tactile experience that I miss.  I kept my notebook with me to write down quotes that moved me as I came upon them and to write down words that I don’t know just like the good old days.  I always had my pocket dictionary at my side as I read.  Kindle has spoiled me with its’ built in dictionary.  Another reason I delayed is that once I start reading, I don’t stop.  I once remarked, “I don’t read books, I inhale them”.  

Anyhoo, that was a rabbit 🐰 hole ramble.  On with the show.  

No spoilers here even though the book is 19 years old and many people have already read it by now.  I want you dear reader to be throughly surprised if you decide to check it out. 

In short, this is the story of a young man, Richard Mayhew a financial analyst at the start of his career. He is moving to London following everything by the book then one day a chance encounter changes his life and he disappears from the world he has always known.  The story that follows is pure richness and depth of characters.  The blending of fact and fantasy in fiction with alternate universes, time travel and magic.  

I give this book two thumbs up or five out of five stars ✨.   Why? An easy read finished in three days.  Took me to another time and place.  The imagery was outstanding.  Here are some of the key takeaways:

1-do we ever really know anyone? The traitor was quite a surprise.

2-is real life all it’s cracked up to be? Often the answer to that is “no”. At times,  people go through the motions and do what they think is expected of them.   I can relate to that … the rule follower that I am.  We grab for status and success and can be disappointed once that’s achieved if the end result is not what we originally imagined.  

3-take risks, break rules, be loyal.  sounds at odds but with loyal friends anything is possible.  Don’t ever doubt that for a moment.

4-people can change.   In fact it’s a given that we all change.  Sadly sometimes we change away from each other.  

I’ll leave you with one quote:

“The Abbot regarded his blindness neither as a blessing nor as a curse, it simply was”

J-Dub “I needed to be more like the Abbot”

As always, more to come.