challenges, part 2

So I got a little off-tracked and never posted the 2nd part to my two-part challenge yesterday. However, I got to enjoy a really awesome barbecue yesterday (sadly, no fire pit commune at the end due to the day's intense heat; Miss M calls sitting around fire pits "fire meetings." and really: that's sort of what they are, no?). Today Miss M and I had one last hurrah at the local public swimming pool. I have one last intense sunburn of the summer, too. To avoid this, I COULD have worn my burqa to swim--at the local swimming pool, I noted this summer this is how very devout Muslim women swim: they just get in, burqa and all.

Off-tracked side note: I really try to embrace and tolerate all faiths, because I think there is more than one path to God. But the swimming in a burqa thing: come on, seriously?? Somebody's going to have a heatstroke or drown from the weight of the cloth--there should be parameters. Never fear, religionists: I have the same reaction to Jehovah's Witnesses when they detail out why I should never celebrate another thing and I inwardly roll my eyes really hard when the very devout Christian students tell me how their dads make an annual trek to Home Depot the night before Halloween for boards so they can board up the windows to keep the family in all night and Satan and his evil trick or treaters out. Come on, seriously?? If Satan really wanted your souls, he'd do it through Valentine's Day love grams or something...Halloween seems far too obvious for Satan. I mean, honestly.

Okay. Back on track: The 2nd part of the Facebook challenge I've seen going around is the Ten Book Challenge: list 10 books that have stayed with you for a very long time. Here are mine:

1-Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's my go-to manual for What To Do In a Life Quandry. It's wise and irreverent and makes me wish I could find a guru with an ashram to go to. But can my ashram be located in Maldives? And can my guru be a newly single Javier Bardem? Make that happen, Universe, and I'll stop judging men in Home Depot loading up on wooden planks and nails the night before Halloween. (okay, no. No I won't. But I'll give it a good old school try.)

2-Plan B (and Further Thoughts on Faith) by Anne Lamott. It's my 2nd go-to manual for What To Do In a Life Quandry. It's wise and irreverent and let's me know I can be cranky and swear and judge others with little regard and God will continue to love me in spite of my whiny pleas for indulgence.

3-The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo. This book. This book! I'm serious: if you haven't read it yet, you need to find you a copy and read it. It will alter the spiritual make up of your heart. It's about love and trust and loss and grief and healing and life and friendship and family and storytelling and letting go. You can read it in about 2 hours. Two hours and your whole life will be better, I promise.

4-Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. This book is about friendship and connection and spirituality and great sacrifice as an act of love. "It is not often someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both: " It's important to be friends with writers. And pigs. And spiders. (I don't kill spiders anymore, by the way. I'll smash a cockroach like I'm seeking vengeance for murdered children. But I cannot, WILL not, kill a spider. And if I see you kill one, I stop talking to you for about a week.)

5-The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.  I've said this for a long time: this book is a prescription for Life. This book is about growing where you're planted, and believing in yourself--you have the power, all the time, to access and realize all your wildest dreams. (And make sure you have a good tornado shelter, yo.)

6-Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. You can't have The Wizard of Oz on a list of Cool Reads without also including Peter Pan on that list. Argue if you'd like, but I'm sorry. You are wrong. You are wrong. Peter Pan is another prescription for Life--don't grow up. I mean, do grow up. But only enough to pay your taxes and for food and stuff so They won't come after you. But inside, stay young. Life is too short to take seriously.

7-Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I read this exactly 200 times when I was in high school. The copy I read belonged to my mother, who read it 300 times when she was in high school. Heathcliff and Cathy, mourning and haunting the moors of Yorkshire. This about love and loss, but also twisted revenge. Hatred is really just wounded love. I wanted to fix Heathcliff and make him whole again, and I still do. Cathy never deserved him anyway.

8-Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. It was about a horrible time in human history, and something horrible a little girl did innocently and out of great love, to protect her little brother during a time in which no one could really protect anyone let alone themselves, and love didn't save anyone. Sacrifice, honesty, living with consequences of our actions. It was just brilliant, and it haunted me for a very, very long time. (They made a movie out of this book which I haven't seen yet--I hear it's fairly decent with some minor plot issues.)

9-To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The ultimate in What would you do if...? books. Which I think is the question most great stories start with. Standing up for what's right, even if you're standing alone is how I'd summarize this book. And the movie version  with Gregory Peck--are you as sad as I am that boy lawyers don't all look, sound, and act like Gregory Peck? I bet the world would make sense if they did.

and...because I'm a scofflaw who can't follow rules to save her life, I had a tie for #10:

10.1-Three Junes by Julia Glass. Julia Glass wrote this book in her 40's, and was pretty much a complete unknown yet still managed to win the National Book Award. This book was about love and loss, secrets, missed connections...all the things that give ME angst, at least. And there are dogs in this, and I'm a big fan of dogs. I once had a chance to hear Julia Glass speak at The Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown Atlanta a few years ago, and I'm still haunted about the fact that didn't work out.

10.2-The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. This book is about how culture can murder us spiritually (is that too heavy? but it stayed with me--the sadness at the heart of this story stayed with me for a very long time, and I can see it in various different ways around us now, culturally speaking). The fact that school boards across the country want this book banned from reading lists, taken out of libraries, etc., indicates it's a book you should read, if you haven't. Always read what They don't want you to. Because Occupy Free Thought.

That's it for me, Internet. These long weekends, they wipe me out. And yet, at the end, I always wonder: what did I actually do? Because at the end, I've really accomplished very little. I mean, I should have re-organized my entire kitchen or something. But no. I slept in late every day and gorged myself on Netflix, watching whole seasons of Once Upon a Time, Dr. Who, and Sherlock. And I will do it again next weekend, because I feel strongly Peter Pan and Gregory Peck would both approve.

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