History?

Recently I wrote about adaptations of books and rating them. I obviously have a lot of thoughts on both of these subjects. Today I’m talking about a sort of hybrid: historical novels. I think that they are adaptations of history and therefore, I’m going to rate them as such…

I recently read “Lost Roses” by Martha Hall Kelly, her new prequel to “Lilac Girls” (which I also read) I also recently read “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris. There may be spoilers ahead: I’m not sure how I want to pen my ideas.

Historical novels are books based on actual events yet are fictional. Hmmmm. Should we be doing this? Why would we do it? What could go wrong when we take an actual event and fictionalize it? Are you starting to see where I’m going with this?

I know both of these books are based on actual events. They speak of real people who did things in their lives. In one case, the author had actually spoken to the namesake tattooer. So these things really happened.

Mainly.

And there’s the problem. We take an actual person, an actual thing that they did, and then you build a fictional story around it. Fictional. As in, one thing was real, and maybe 80% is what the author dreamed up based on historical documents. Hmmmm.

As a fledgling writer I have been in classes where I have presented a story or chapter and have been met with choruses of “That would never happen in real life.” “That’s not believable.” Even published authors have received criticism that things aren’t realistic. (and we all know that sometimes what we write, even though labeled as fiction, is actually based on real events, so like it or not, things happen). So with actual fiction, every story, anecdote and happening must pass the believability test. It has to actually seem like it would happen. Not so much with historical fiction.

I think there is much more license to be creative when something is deemed historical and based on a true event. You have to believe it because this is a real character who had a real life and real things that led to this incident or time in history. You must believe all the words on a page because it “happened”. It’s based on a “true story”.

I call bullshit.

Here come the spoilers.

“Tattooist” is basically a love story. Boy meets girl as he is branding her with a tattoo in Auschwitz, a concentration camp run by the Nazi’s in World War II. All these things are fact. Real people, real places, real events. Truth. The author actually spoke to the tattooer before he died.

But the story…If this was the first Holocaust book that someone read, they would have a very poor understanding of what it was. This book was more reminiscent of summer camp, and boys and girls sneaking behind the cabin to have sex. Which is literally a scene in this book. Now I want to ask you logically: with what you know about concentration camps and Nazi’s, do you think that a male and female prisoner would be able to sneak behind a building to have sex (excuse me- make love) and long talks? Do you understand why I looked at the book and said “Bullshit”?

Now, in this case I’m not blaming the author. She actually interviewed the main character back in the early 2000’s. But honestly, I can’t imagine his memories were very real. First off, by then he was probably in his 90’s. I’m sorry, memory fades with age. Secondly, he is a Holocaust survivor: he is going to have the memories he chooses to have because he survived one the most horrific periods in history. Like anyone who has experienced a personal tragedy, they need to separate things in their mind- the survivor instinct lets you build a whole new reality. But to say “Based on a True Story”? I take offense to using those words with this book.

In “Lost Roses” I am totally blaming the author. She has chosen to write about women in a prominent New York society family during WWI. I don’t think she actually spoke to any of the women personally. These women were pioneers in helping those who could not help themselves, refugees and others. Commendable. Women like this should be recognized.

But…

To say that there were parts of this story that were ridiculous is an understatement. The coincidences and chances of fate that happen? You would not believe how many people happened to be walking down the street at the same time as their love from twenty years prior, especially as they are now in a completely different city. And the degrees of separation? every time they met someone new, that person knew all their friends and relatives. Amazing. Fate at its finest.

Bullshit.

How many acts of fate and coincidence am I supposed to believe because something is labeled “based on a true story.” In 1917 Russia, am I supposed to believe that a woman by herself was able to get a horse and a cart through the revolution and onto Paris? Really? In a country with no food and constant rioting because no one was really in charge, a beautiful woman was able to get out alive, feed herself and feed her horse, from St. Petersburg to Paris? Really?

Come. On.

But I guess it happened because it was based on a true story.

So yes, I’m throwing the entire historical fiction novel, especially those based on a true story, under the bus. Don’t get me started on revisionist history either- just because we wish something was so doesn’t mean it was. But that’s not even a blog- that’s a book…

So…

Historical fiction? Yay or nay?

 

 

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Calm? Who Me?

This year I’ve been thinking about a theme, and using it for Monday to Friday blogs. This gives me the ability to incorporate thoughts that my blog friends have given me into a central idea or unit. I have been fond of this method because it has given me time to pause, reflect and slow down, which was one of my goals for the year. But I’ve realized that sometimes I need a follow-up. Weeks or months later I have thoughts or ideas that stemmed from past blogs. So this week, piling on from last week, will be a few new ideas I’ve had about past subjects.

A few months ago I wrote about Myers Briggs, and my typing ISTJ-A. When I took the test and looked at the supporting descriptions, I thought that it was pretty dead accurate to my personality, except there was one part, I think the A, that suggests that I am calm. In my mind, I am not calm. I just got irrationally annoyed because I accidentally erased this paragraph. Ask any customer service representative if I talk in a calm manner…..

But… I started to realize something. When I am talking to someone who I think is slacking, I tend to talk faster. I’m probably trying to get them to speed up and think and pay attention. And I normally talk fast, and loud. (I would not make a good librarian). So I give the appearance of not being calm- yet inside….I’m pretty much in control in there.

I also realized that I’m actually great in a crisis. When my friend K recently had to go to the Doctor, she asked me to come along. Now, I’m a nice person, but it wasn’t necessarily my bedside manner: it was because of my ability to listen openly and rationally. We got to the office and I pulled out my pen and notepad (and I had a spare pen in my bag) I had google open on my phone so I could check a definition at any point. My friend K looked at me and laughed- “of course you bring a notebook”. When she told our other friend that I was going to the Doctor with her my friend G responded- “Oh- of course you bring LA. She is the perfect person. She’ll know exactly what questions to ask.”

K was not the first person to ask me to accompany them to a Doctor’s visit. I know nothing about medicine or the like, but I do know how to listen, how to jot down what’s important, and how to think what the logical next question is.

When my daughter was about eighteen months old she got a nasty stomach bug. I realized that she was dehydrated and I called Doctor and he told me to get her to emergency room to het hydrated. Here’s the thing: I was not one of those Mother’s constantly on the phone with the Doctor. The Doctor knew that if I was calling, I wasn’t fooling. And then the nurse at the ER praised me for realizing quickly that my daughter was dehydrated- She said that most parents didn’t realize it right away and that made it worse.

I calmly sat with my daughter as the IV rehydrated her. Listened to the Doctors and Nurses. Kept my young daughter occupied. I did not fall apart. Even as my Mother and Mother in Law constantly called me in hysterics.

I didn’t break. I just did what needed to be done.

It’s funny how you can let people’s perceptions of you color your own judgement. Because I’m quick, I’ve been told I’m not calm. But guess what? I am actually quite calm. It takes a lot to break me. If I go out of control you know you’ve worn me down. My Husband was annoyed with me once (yes- only once….) and he was ranting and I was calmly listening to him, and it made him more mad that I was rational and not screaming. It also helped that what he was saying was ridiculous. How mad can you get if someone is just being ridiculous?

So there you go- though I might not appear calm, I actually am. Just like my house- when you enter you might think I’m not organized, but open up a cabinet or drawer, and there it is, all straight lines and order. I’ve built a good base.

 

Highlights

The highlight of my week was clearly receiving my aerogarden. There are three things that annoy me about my apartment: no jetted tub, no laundry in my apartment and no room to grow herbs. Well, hopefully my daughter has found a way to make one of my dreams come true.20190512_1005477660875302356244784.jpg

This is a not so great shot of my new aerogarden- sorry-

Basically, you fill the tank with water, add plant food, add the seed pods (in my case I have thai basil, Genovese basil, thyme, curly parsley, mint and dill) cover the pods with those little covers, could set up the lights and poof- in a few weeks I should have sprouts!

The lights come on automatically for about 15 hours (I set it up to start at 730 am) and then shut off.

So far so good.

If this works I will play around with what herbs I will grow. I don’t really need thai basil, and I could probably use oregano, or maybe rosemary or sage in the fall.

But we’ll see…

 

Gratitude Saturday: The Post Birthday Addition

55.

Enough said about the new age and the first day of my 56th year…..here’s what I’m grateful for:

  1. Thank you to all my friends and family for the lovely birthday wishes!!!
  2. Thanks to my daughter who took time out from AP studying to write my blog and go out to dinner
  3. Spicy Penang Curry from my fave Thai place- Jaiya
  4. Mille Crepe cake from Lady M. Best. Cake. Ever.
  5. My new hydroponic garden. In 5-7 days I’ll have basil, thyme, dill and mint.
  6. Getting to celebrate my Dad’s birthday with him last Sunday
  7. Getting to see my friend K, recovering from brain surgery and looking great!!
  8. My Daughter’s best friend got into her first choice college on appeal!!!
  9. Two years blogging!

In all, it’s been a great week, and was a great year!!

Guest post: my daughter

Hi everyone. As I’m sure my mom has expressed to you in multiple blog posts, I am her daughter, a high school senior, and I am very busy. And although her birthday had to fall at the height of all my AP exams (thanks Mom), this is something I am happy to do since frankly, every single day my mom is busy attending to one of my, many, needs.

Now applying to college is stressful and one of the most trying aspects is something known as the Common App. As a seasoned college applicant, I can now laugh at the Common App and the many horror stories it details. But as a worried high school senior in August, figuring out what to write for my Common App essay was extremely difficult. Surprisingly, I ended up writing about my morning routine and the various quirks that make my routine different. I discussed what music I listened to, what I ate, etc. But there are some things I did not include.

-Although my alarm does typically wake me up, on those mornings where I hit snooze one too many times, my mom’s comforting voice is always there to ensure I am out of bed.

-The best part of waking up is actually not Folgers. Instead, it is my mom bringing my folgers as the light slowly enters my window.

-My lucky t-shirt, which I wear on big test days, is something my mom encouraged me to buy. When I accidentally forgot my lucky scarf on state test day, my mom was quick to text me a picture and ease my nerves.

-Since the beginning, my breakfast has always been provided by my mom. When I was younger, chocolate chip pancakes were my go-to. Now, I prefer the New York City staple of an egg and cheese. No matter what time I need my breakfast, my mom is always there to make or buy it.

-While makeup comes slightly easier now, when I first started learning makeup, my mom was right alongside me blending my eyeshadow and fixing my cat eye.

My love of Youtube I developed all on my own. But, my mom has joined me at all my fangirling events (Bookcon, youtuber meet-and-greets, or movie premieres).

-After saying goodbye to my dog and cat, I say goodbye to my mom. She always knows what tests I have, what I am doing after school, and I am consistently able to walk out the door recognizing just how much love I am given.

It’s hard to imagine that in a few months my mom won’t be standing at the door screaming “don’t forget your lunch!”. I’ll miss her warm dinners, her excitement over books and movies, and her enduring love for me. In all that my mom has prepared me for, she hasn’t prepared me for a life without her.

So mom, I will try to do my own laundry and I will probably call you to ask you questions about how to use a stove. But I will also call you to hear your opinion on the Oscars and the latest New York Times Bestsellers. And I will call you because I love you.

T

hank you mom for making my mornings, and afternoons and evenings go smoothly. I love you more than I love youtube.

Love,

Your favorite daughter

The Book Clubs- Part 2

A few weeks ago I discussed how I was going to counter empty nesthood: by joining two book clubs. One at my local Barnes and Noble which would be discussing new and noteworthy (aka hyped) books and one at an independent book store focusing on foreign books in translation.

Fine.

Except, all my IRL friends said that I was totally going to the Barnes and Noble one. And they added, there was no way I was going to the foreign book one.

Oh how well my friends know me.

This past Monday I did indeed skip the independent bookstore club (I mean- I didn’t read the book, so, you know…) and on Tuesday I went to the B&N one.

First off- great success to the B&N club. It was run by two young enthusiastic readers who came prepared with great questions and the ability to keep the group in line. There were probably about fifteen of us in all, fourteen women and one lone man. Why do men not like book clubs? The majority of the women were older than me, but there one or two younger. In all, it was a lively group filled with varied opinions and ideas and thoughts. The conversation solidly revolved around the book for the hour. I will definitely be going again next month.

Here’s the thing about me and reading and book clubs. I love to discuss books. I love discussing how the author moved the plot forward, or what devices were used. I love questioning why something was done in a certain way. But sometimes I wonder if I read books differently than others.

The book we discussed was “Lost Roses” by Martha Hall Kelly, the prequel to “Lilac Girls” (which I read and disliked as well) I made a point about a part of the book I thought was preposterous, and no one else had picked up on it. After I said it, a few people opened there mouths and said – “Oh wow- I didn’t think of that. that’s right.” But some people just stared at me. I made another point about how a character acted in a particular scene and I said I lost all sympathy for her after that scene, and people again said they hadn’t thought of it like that. So I can’t help but wonder: am I odd? Do I read into things differently than others? Do I look for oddities?

When you read a book, how do you read it? I know we all know how to read, and as bloggers and blog readers, we’re actually pretty good at it. But how carefully and critically do you look at novels that you’re reading? (and don’t talk to me about grammar because we all know that I don’t do grammar and will not fault anyone for incorrect grammar) When it comes to characters, do you actively look for the subtle moments when they change? Do you notice inconsistencies in plot line?

I know numerical inconsistencies drive me crazy. The only time I ever emailed an author had to do with ages of her characters- she changed the age of several characters several times (and it wasn’t a self published book!!!)

So, what makes you question a book? What makes you decide you like, or don’t like a book? Inquiring minds want to know.

 

The Decision

I don’t think you know this, but my daughter is going to college in the fall….

Ok- you got me. I talk about this a lot. You have been with me through campus visits, prepping for interviews and my general whining about the whole process. You’ve listened to me blather on about the law suit against Harvard, the admissions scandal and the whole early decision conundrum. But here’s the outcome:

After MUCH consideration, my Daughter chose a college!

Cue the noisemakers and un helium filled balloons…

She ended up being accepted by seven colleges, waitlisted at one and rejected by a few. Luckily she was accepted at two of her top choice schools. But, that proved to be a little tough: in her mind and on paper, these two schools were dead even. They are the size she prefers, located in urban areas and have excellent reputations. They are located in the same area of the country, and almost equidistant to NYC. They both have very good rankings according to most sources that rank schools. They have department upon department to help with internships, fellowships and research opportunities. They both have great placement into graduate schools upon graduation. Small class size. Well appointed campuses. Law teams. Club tennis. Volunteer opportunities. They were virtually the same.

So how do you make a choice? How did she make a choice?

She attended accepted students days for both schools. Very impressive displays out on by the schools. All the bells and whistles. Swag. Once they accept you, they want you.

In the end, her choice came down to one school being slightly better for her interest base, which is history, government and political science. It is also located in Washington DC. The thought of interning there is a dream. The ability to wander over to the Supreme Court while they are in session? Priceless. For a kid who loves the law, this is the place to be.

She did say that turning down the other school was a tough choice. She knows she would have received a first class education there. But, she’s confident with her decision. She knows in her heart she has made the right choice.

Now, the reality of college begins. For us, when we had to wire the deposit last week. For her, in was last Wednesday when her school had Decision Day, and all the students wore their new college t shirts and took pictures with one another and cheered each other.

There’s Facebook. My Daughter has never been a big user of Facebook, but quickly realized that much of the pre college happenings happen on Facebook. She’s getting up to speed as quickly as possible.

Then there’s the other stuff- the more academic things. My Daughter is getting ready to apply to the pre orientation programs. yes- there is competition right off the bat: 250 word essay please on why you belong in the pre orientation program.

We’ve booked a hotel for parents weekend. We’ve been invited to the parents only page. A whole new chapter is about to begin. I congratulate my daughter for twelve years of hard work. I look forward to the next chapter in her life. And the next chapter in mine.

Order Calm

You all know I’m an organizing junkie. And I love to read books about the subject too. (I saw a friend yesterday and she said- Really- you read organizing books?- because she couldn’t fathom that a person would read something like this for fun) I am also a fan of Gretchen Rueben, of “The Happiness Project” fame- (my least happy moment of last year was when I realized there would be no happy every day tear off calendar for 2019) So imagine my delight when I found that Rueben had published an organizing book- “Outer Order, Inner Calm”.

Basically, the title says it all. If your outer world is in order, you will feel calm inside.

Ohmmmmm

Or something like that.

Is this so much different than other organizing, get back your life books?

No. It gives you the down and dirty basics of how to declutter, what to toss, what to keep. it stresses that you must pare down before you buy storage containers. It reminds you that you can’t keep a memory of everything. All the usual things that these books promise.

But I did actually learn some new tricks. Reuben describes two types of people: Overbuyers and underbuyers. An overbuyer is exactly what it sounds like: a person who just buys a bunch of stuff. And underbuyer is someone who tries to be so practical and frugal so tend to not buy things they need till the last minute. They also hoard clutter in different ways: they have trouble getting rid of some things because they can’t get past the thought that they spent money on an item and didn’t use it. They also have an “I can hold off” attitude and wait as long as possible to buy something (you have six squares of toilet paper left before you buy another roll) or you just do without and complain.

I am underbuyer.

I am constantly purging, yet I have THREE boxes (yes three separate boxes) of charging cords that I don’t know what they belong to. Three. One in my living room, one in my all purpose closet and one in my storage locker. Three boxes filled with chargers and apparatus as such. Three. Including a bunch of I chargers that don’t work…..

But here’s the biggest problem with that- I have an ipad charger that I bring around from place to place when I need my ipad to charge. One charger. and my outlets are not always easily accessible. It actually stresses me out sometimes. So I went to Target and I bought two 9.99 chargers. I plugged one in my kitchen and one next to my couch. You have no idea how happy I am. Seriously, knowing I can move my ipad to whatever room I need it is actually life changing. Sometimes it’s OK to have more than one item.

Let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. Clothing. You know I went to a capsule wardrobe this year. Love it. Except I don’t own a slim fitting black crew neck t shirt. Do you know how many times I go to get dressed and look in vain for a black slim fitting crew neck t shirt? And I curse my outfit because I don’t have this one accessory? 7.50 and a trip to Old Navy solved this dilemma…

The other organizing lesson I learned was that sometimes you need to adapt to you style. and in this particular case, my Husband’s style. I’m a place for everything sort of girl. My Husband is a drop where it lands sort of guy. Which means that his keys could literally end up anywhere in the apartment instead of the basket placed near the front door that is specifically for keys. His clothes are piled on the floor instead of in drawers or on shelves. His shoes are strewn about instead of in the underbed shoe boxes I purchased. He just doesn’t organize like I do.

Hence, I bought him a basket, and now he just throws all this stuff in the basket. It’s not on the floor, I don’t trip over all these things. I just push the basket of stuff off to the side. And tossing all his stuff in a basket has made him realize that he just doesn’t like to put things away. I don’t think it’s going to change him, but at least he realizes it.

Moral of the story? I get my kicks off of organizing books. And there’s always something new to learn.

4.5 stars…

 

2 Year Blogiversary

Two years ago I signed up with WordPress!

Yay!

What have I learned?

  1. If WordPress is going to make a change, it will be two steps forward, one step back. Case in point, the new editor, which I’ve heard Zero people that like it…
  2. I still like writing off the top of my head: I still may think about a post overnight, in my sleep like some sort of weird osmosis thing, but I write the post in one take on my computer in the morning. I don’t know if this is good or bad.
  3. When I started this blog I was focusing solely on aging. As I started to write, I realized that I just see things differently now that I am older. The chronological age doesn’t bother me: it was just strange to see how my mindset changes/changed.
  4. This calendar year I changed up my blog writing a little. Instead of just writing whatever came to my head, I began to think of topics, and then write all week about one central idea. I realized how important comments are to my process and gained much of my insight and thoughts based on what others say. Seeing other peoples perspective has broadened my mind. I like having the ability to reflect and write about that during a week.
  5. Sometimes when I’m thinking about a certain weekly topic, ideas start to come to me from all around. I might hear something on GMA, then I might read a blog with something that oddly correlates, then something might happen in real life that backs it up.
  6. I have met amazing people during my blog journey- that’s been the most fun part of blogging- the connections
  7. I still do not know what a widget is
  8. I am not looking forward to the new editor
  9. I am looking forward to what comes next
  10. This week is a little bit of a compilation- I am going to follow up on some things I’ve been working on/talked about, and there is most probably going to be a guest post from my daughter on Friday

Thanks to all of you who read, listen to and challenge me on a daily basis!!

Gratitude Saturday

Been stupidly distracted the past few weeks so my weekend posts have been forgotten…

But today, I must talk about my huge gratitude for the week.

My wonderful writing friend K had a brain tumor. I say had because it was successfully removed this week. Though she is still in pain she is recovering well and the Doctor is pleased with the results.

This was a good week.