Tag Archives: Fiction

Never give up – A Story

7 Apr

There are days that ooze a certain kind of melancholy without them having to try. I don’t know if it’s in the grey sky that never seems to get clear these days, low hanging clouds that no ray of light can get through, thus making these days be darker than they’d need to be. Or maybe it’s all in me after I stayed up too late and slept too long.

When I think of her, I think of greatness, of self-sacrificing and undying love. There are stories I heard so many times it’s almost as if I was there even though it’s impossible for me without having travelled in time.

Growing up in difficult times, the Second World War started when she was only five years old. Still, she was one of the lucky one’s, her family stayed intact throughout it, her father wasn’t sent away as he was needed in the steel mill. Food was scarce and so was everything else except love. Getting an education was one concern that didn’t even make her top five; surviving was at the top.

She once said that she never expected to live past the age of twelve with bombs being dropped all around her forcing her to spend days and many, many nights inside of the closest bunker. And my heart gets heavy with sorrow thinking about this woman growing up, living a life so much beyond her own expectations, out-living too many of her family members.

When she was eleven the war stopped and she had a little brother only about a year old. He was born into the ugliness of war, hardship and despair. Despite spending most of his first year in a bunker, he made it, he didn’t die like so many other infants did due to lacks of ventilation, sunlight and fresh air.

She did see a soldier die right in front of her but nobody sent her away for therapy. These were the times children saw things way beyond what anyone, child or adult, should ever see. Every child of that generation wears the same scars of growing up not knowing if they’ll even be able to celebrate their next birthday. Again, she was lucky. The day her town got bombed out she was supposed to be in the heart of it with her friends but her family didn’t let her go with them. Almost as if they knew something bad was bound to happen that day. Her friends remained unscratched, they got inside a bunker but their parents were beyond fear, not knowing if their children were still alive or lying beside the dead people and horses in the streets these girls ran over to get home as soon as anyone opened up those bunker doors for the first time the next morning.

I cannot imagine running back home, stepping over dead people, dead animals, destroyed buildings. Being afraid it’s not over yet, that anyone would see me while my sole concern is safely getting back home and praying for my parents to still be alive. These things are beyond my imagination and I’m glad these are different times now. I grew up in a peaceful country that, even after more than 60 years, has not been able to completely step out of the shadow of what they brought upon the world.

Back to this magnificent girl that was just about to grow up and become a woman; to be courted and married to a handsome fellow with impeccable business sense. Her life was always hard in some way or another. When she wasn’t worried over bombings anymore she worried over having enough to feed her children, not knowing if this latests business idea of her husband was pushing them all over the abyss or not. But it wasn’t, even though they did get close a couple of times. Then he started to get sick and she had to keep the business up and running, take care of her children, her mentally unstable mother-in-law, a household. Somedays she was so tired she couldn’t help the crying. Too many tears to count were shed in private.

It got better with time though, not his health or her constant worrying but they made enough money to live well, for their kids to be able to get a university education, drive their own cars. She has come a long way but it seems as if you can never keep the heartbreak away from her for long. She had to bury her husband after years of taking care of him. Years that weren’t easy with heart attacks and long, fearful nights spent beside hospital beds. She lived more than 20 years without the love of her life and I believe, she never truly got over it.

Then the year she buried both her mother and her brother came. Yes, mothers usually die before their children but that doesn’t make things any easier. Finding your younger brother after he’s already been dead for a week in his apartment is another thing I cannot imagine. How many times can a heart break and be mended back together?

Truth is, I don’t know the answer, but if her life is any indication, it is a lot. She was left behind too early by too many family members. In the end, it came down to her, two children and one grandchild. She never stopped worrying, it will always be a part of her. Worrying over things that need no worrying but are set so deep inside her soul that she cannot help it.

Children are not supposed to die before their parents and if it does happen it leaves them in a state beyond repair. She was always concerned about her first-born, the child’s health was fragile even when it was young and needed attention. The child grew up to be strong but made some terrible choices in life. Nothing illegal or life-threatening but terrible nonetheless. Then cancer came and took the child away, leaving a mother heartbroken yet another time. A mother never expects to outlive her children, not when they made it to ages over 50 but it happens and it’s ugly. It’s horrible but nothing can keep this woman down. Not for long anyways.

She is so strong and I’m blessed to have been told her tale. To me, she is the bravest and strongest person. Her story is by far unique, there are too many people out in the world with similar or even worse stories of their own. Nevertheless, she makes me believe that muddling through hardships is possible, that I never need to loose my spirits even if it’s hard, just to hang on to life itself. A heart can break many times but it can be mended back together even though it may never be the same again. She has always lived for others, worked all her life so she could leave her children something behind. Her soul was not a wasted one and neither was her life, not by far as she serves to me as a daily reminder to be strong and never give up.

I wish I could go up to her and thank her for giving my life perspective, for giving me strength and making me believe in human beings. I wish I could go and thank her for all the things she was never thanked for in her life because they were things she was supposed to do and nobody had time for politeness. I wish I could ask her if she thought it was worth it, going through the hard times or if she’d still do it if she knew what was for her to come. But that’s just the thing. It’s sometimes better not to know, it would spoil life itself, if you’re just looking for the next crisis that may or may not be ahead. Better just think of her.

And never give up.

There are Days…

6 Mar

There are days I feel happy; like I’m bursting with energy; as if I could take on the world and win.

There are days I’m insufferable; I know it but I cannot change it no matter how much I annoy even myself with it.

There are days everything feels wrong from the moment my feet touch the ground for the first time in the morning without having done anything yet.

There are days I jump out of bed with the prospect of watching a sunrise; I wake up believing in all the possibilities life gives me and that everything is splendid.

There are days I feel like a waste of molecules; of space; of clean air I take away from more deserving people than me.

There are days my heart sings and the rest of my body hums along because everywhere I look I see beauty; it is wonderful and I’m unable to take my eyes away from it.

There are days I’m a genius and know it – maybe not an actual genius but close enough to make me feel like I have the answers to everything.

There are days I fight the words in my head to make sense; to be quiet; to leave me alone as I lie in bed avoiding the real world outside of my bedroom.

There are days I cannot wait to mould sentences; string words together to share them with the whole wide world because I have feelings to attend to.

There are days I feel the need to drown my emotions in fiction because only there I can be sure of a happy-end instead of these dreadful actual feelings I’m harbouring.

There are days I’m lazy as hell and cannot get a thing done if my sanity depended on it.

There are days I could spend hours looking at the wallpaper because I’m not really seeing it – too lost in my own head.

There are days I cannot sit still because my mind is racing and my body needs to catch up.

There are days I want to cry for hours but I’m not letting myself because it feels weak and stupid until the time I cannot hold the tears in any longer.

There are days remembering the amazing people in my life is enough to make my heart burst with joy.

…and then there are days that are filled with all of the above.

Do you ever skip ahead?

19 Jul

Today I came across a blog entry by one of my favourite authors, Kerry Reichs. If you’re a long time follower of Lazy Happy Bored Happy Sad, you may remember me declaring my love for her previous novel Leaving Unkown/ The Good Luck Girl. Anyway, Kerry has published a new book, ‘What You Wish For‘ and I cannot wait to read it. There’s only one problem, if I buy it now, I buy the US version and then the book won’t match the two I already own and my shelf would be in more disarray than I would like it to be. Yes, I know I sound quite OCD but damn it, I love order. So I’m hoping ‘What You Wish For’ will be published by Orion in the UK rather sooner than later. Or else I need to mentally prepare myself for yet another series (no they’re not sequels but still belong together) of books that do not match. Like these:

My heart still cries silently over the fact that my Thursday Next collection is now officially out of order every time I walk by that shelf but I wasn’t able to resist the dumping price on the last book so I decided my heart would have to get over it. Nope, still isn’t but whatever.

Moving on.

With her guest post, Kerry got me thinking about my reading habits. Yes, I do peek at the end of books as well. Book lovers all over the world are now officially allowed to disrespect me for it. But, tell me, have you never looked ahead? Never? Not even while reading Harry Potter?? LIARS!

I even look ahead chapter wise when the book is not very fascinating or I’m tired. Can I justify staying up for another 10-20 pages or do I turn off the light and try to sleep instead? I like reading chapter-wise. I hate having to stop mid-chapter because I just can’t keep my eyes open any longer or because I get disrupted so I need to plan it. Is there enough time before the appointment for me to get through this or not?

But it’s not always about planning, sometimes I skip ahead to see if things turn out the way I want them to, or if there is (finally) something interesting coming up, or when this stupid part is finally over. Let me tell you though, all my skipping ahead, stealing glances at the end, hasn’t helped me with ‘Great Expectations’. I’m now over halfway through and I’m still waiting for something interesting to happen to Pip, Estella and Miss Havisham. But NOTHING EVER DOES!! Sure, the narrative is fine but the storyline is extremely boring to me.

With the last Harry Potter, I couldn’t help but read the very last chapter first, I needed to know he survived in order to start reading the book. Nonetheless my first reading of The Deathly Hallows was done in such a haste, that after finishing it, I started right at the beginning again to get in everything of the story I missed in my hazy attempt to find out what happens to every single one of the characters I loved and cared for for so long.

I read a lot of crime and mystery novels and even though I know the protagonists survive because, let’s face it, there will be sequels, I still need to reassure myself of the fact that they get out of harmful situations alive. I get scared for the characters, which is probably the whole point of it but I’m a sissy that way.

Reading the last page first is not as bad a thing as many people want you to believe though, or at least, that’s what I think. Reading the last page is mostly confusing and without understanding what has happened before, you’re not even able to understand the ending. Last pages are not endings! They’re just last words to a story you cannot fathom unless you understand the lead-up to those last words. Real endings happen sometime before the last page.

Another thing I do to books is read them simultaneously. I never did that while I was younger, because I thought it would be better to read one book at a time. I’m long over it though. Like right now, I’m reading ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘The Help’. The first one I carry around when I take my mom to appointments because then I actually cannot get out of reading it while ‘The Help’ is what I read in bed. Some books just require more effort to get through them than is good but I stick by them.

Most of them, anyways. I’ve so far, rarely given up on a book. I never made it through ‘Moby Dick’ though. Maybe one day, I’ll find the strength in myself to give it another try just right now, time is too precious to waste it on an old man’s obsession with a white whale. Technically I also never finished ‘Dead Souls’ by Gogol but as the last chapters were incomplete I gave up one day and haven’t regretted it.

Now you know my reading secrets. What are yours? Do you peek at the endings? What books did you gave up and never looked back at?

Reading Habits

19 Apr

I guess this comes from a long way of stealing but I took this idea from Kirsti’s blog who also stole it from somewhere else :D Since I haven’t written about books as much as I wish, this is a good opportunity to do so. Also, I have some time to kill before I go to bed.

If you could live in a fictional world, where would that be?

There are a lot of great places to be living in but I think it would be great to spend some time in the Bookworld or Well of Lost Plots out of the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde.

Do you read in noisy or quiet places?

I can do both, but I most enjoy it when it’s quiet unless the book I’m reading is sooo captivating I can really blend out my surroundings but that doesn’t always happen to me.

What was the first book you ever read?

Gosh, I don’t really know anymore but I think it was a detective story I inherited from my mom. It actually was a two-parter but I only had the first volume, so I never knew how everything turned out.

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

That is a very hard question and I don’t think you can properly only choose one book because different books accompany different moods, it’s like asking which of your children you like best -> not fair. But, if I had to choose, it would be Leaving Unknown (US title The Good Luck Girl) by Kerry Reichs. It’s the book I read most times so far and I just have a minor (major!!!) book-crush on it.

Favorite Author?

Another question that is impossible to answer with only one reply so I’ll make it a small list.

Jane Austen
Charlotte Bronte
P.G. Wodehouse
Agatha Christie
Isabel Allende

Do reviews influence your choices of reads?

Not really. A book can have great reviews or be on the bestseller-list, if I don’t like the summary then I’m not reading it unless it is a classic and I think I have to read it because it’s a matter of education.

Fiction or Non-fiction?

I’d say 90% fiction. I enjoy loosing myself in other worlds too much to read more non-fiction books.

Have you ever met your favorite author?

No, I only met one local author whose books I like but he’s not my favorite so I really can’t say that I have. The problem is that most authors I like are either dead or living abroad.

Audio books or Paperback?

Definitely paperbacks! I love radio plays since childhood but not audiobooks. Please! I tried one but gave up after 5 minutes because it wasn’t for me. Also, most of the audiobooks are abridged which is a big no-no for me, I like to read everything, not only the best parts.

Classic or Modern Novels?

Both. I enjoy a lot of the classics (mainly of english origin which we didn’t cover in my german high school). But I also like to read modern stuff, it only depends on me finding the premise of the book interesting enough to buy it, nothing more.

Book groups or Solitary Reading?

Solitary! I don’t even like to praise books in front of my friends because I’m afraid they would not like them as much as me and thus be disappointed by my recommendation. And I wouldn’t have time for a book club anyways.

If you could invite three dead authors to a dinner for four, whom would you invite?

Jane Austen, P.G. Wodehouse because I think he would be a terrific person to hang out with and Heinrich Böll. Or maybe Dorothy Parker because I would love to find out how sarcastic she really was and whether I could keep up with her.

Ok, so this concludes my stolen post. Maybe it inspires you to do the same and let me know about your reading habits.

Smart is for Sissies

31 Mar

I still have the pack of hankies you left at my place about two years ago because they once smelled like you. Now the DVD-boxset you lent me is sitting beside me on the desk and it also smells like you, which reminded me about the hankies in the first place.
All day, I found myself randomly grabbing the DVDs and taking in your smell. This must sound really weird, well, so is me loving you. It’ll never work out, which I know – nevertheless I cannot stop thinking about falling asleep with you beside me. We never did that, I have an active imagination, you know, so I can picture it without it ever happening.

Maybe staying inside my imagination like this is not the smartest thing to do. Well, I don’t care right now, smart is of sissies.

I miss not having you around as much as I used to have, when we went to school together. Frankly, it’s the only thing I miss about school. We went from seeing each other almost every day to once a month at our worst.

The thing with us is, you’re the best friend I have thoughI may be only one of your closest friends (I most certainly cannot compete with a friend you know since both of you went to kindergarten together). I trust you completely because you always have my back. You never get annoyed when I rant and rant and rant, you even manage to give me advice and understand me! I don’t know how I can ever repay you for the times you were there for me when I needed you the most. I still need you and I hope I’ll be there for you, when you’ll need me.

I value this friendship so dearly that I would never give it up by pressuring you into something I know you won’t do. That’s why I should just take my feelings and bury them somewhere deep down and far away and hope they won’t surface again. I’m sorry but I can’t do that right now because smart is for sissies.

We would be perfect together and I guess that’s where the problem lies. Nothing is perfect and I guess love never is. Well, what do I know about love anyways?! I love the image I have of you in my head. The reason I can’t let go of it is, it would leave me all alone and I really do not want to be alone right now. I can’t be.

I’m not being smart about this, no, I am being an idiot and I don’t care.

I long for a hug the size of Montana which lets me forget my troubles because I am with you. But I am afraid to ask for it so I have to make due with taking in your smell left on those DVDs and pretend to be close to you instead of actually being there. It’s not the same but better than nothing, better than being all alone. You’re the happy place I go to when I really need it.

I should let go of you so I can maybe find someone else who can be in a relationship with me, but not right now, because I am not a sissy and the little bit of pain I feel, reminds me that I am not a heartless bitch and that I am still alive and not completely numb despite all the roadblocks I’ve built around my heart in order to protect it.

You know me better than any other person in the world. The only thing you may never know is how deeply I actually care for you but that’s ok. Well, maybe you do and I don’t give you credit for it, who knows.

The only thing I know is, I can’t let you go just yet despite knowing that holding on to something unreal like this is pathetic. What can I say?! – I guess, I am pathetic and stupid, but I am no sissy!

 

Why I just cannot not go into a book-store.

7 Mar

I originally set out to find a bolero jacket which fits perfectly with the blue dress I bought off the internet for my cousin’s confirmation in late April. As I am not the most patient shopper and am just too picky, I ended up with nothing. Most of the times, my problem is that I know exactly what I want, there is just no store offering it. It’s the same with me an man only they’re not displayed in stores to shop around.

Before I could set out to find nothing, I was asked to participate in a competition to win something. Unfortunately I stopped before I knew what it was, I initially thought the guy just wanted to give me  flyer for something but no. He asked me if I was already 18. Helloooo?!! I’m 24 for god’s sake and while I know I don’t look my age, I don’t think I look like a minor. I never know whether I should take thinks like that as a compliment or not. This made me slightly uneasy which probably did not help my ability to shop.

So, after leaving the mall with nothing, I passed by this book store. It’s a chain, and I never really liked it, still don’t but I had to go in, because I wanted to buy something! Last time I went in, I bought three books, one of them was a total drag but I finished it last night. Finally!

Isn't the cover beautiful?

There I was, looking at all the pretty books. I found one of my fave’s in the recommended pile, ‘The Monsters of Tempelton’ by Lauren Groff. It’s were I initially took my Twitter username (WillieSun) and later my WordPress name from ’cause I’m horrible at making up names. I love, love, love the book, it’s beautiful cover and the author. Can’t wait for her third book to come out in paperback. But I’m drifting away.
I wasn’t in the mood for a contemporary book translated into german which, unfortunately, are most books you can buy in a german book store, so I strolled over to the english book section. They tend not to be big, which always makes me sad and I end up ordering my books from amazon. But there was nothing there either which brought me to my last stop, the classics section. And alas! I found something. Actually, I was eying it the last time I was in the store but I wasn’t sure.

I am now the proud owner of my own copy of ‘War and Peace’ finally. I spent one summer searching for my granny’s copy of the book but never found it. It’s a huge, very long book and I will probably not read it right away but owning it makes me really glad. I remember reading ‘Anna Karenina’, same author, long russian book but it was excellent.
Alongside ‘War and Peace’ I also bought ‘Oliver Twist’ because I didn’t have it yet.

As you probably already guessed correctly, I love books and own a big bunch of them. I’m even running out of bookshelf-place by now but what the heck. You can never have too many of them. Right?!!

Part of my overflowing bookshelf

It’s just the best thing to loose yourself in a good story and you know that, after whatever number of pages, most problems will be resolved and everything has found it’s place. A similar thing applies to TV shows as well, only there you have a finite number of episodes but otherwise it’s the same experience for me.

So, I simply cannot not enter a book-store, even when I don’t particularly like the store, I still feel like missing out when I pass it. There could be a book, a potential friend, that wants to come home with me to eventually enlighten my day.

Now I find myself in the awkward position where I have to choose which book to read next and I’m not sure whether it’s the right choice because mood does play a role in my enjoyment of a book. My studies have me in a pretty tight grip these days, so I don’t have the time I would want to devote to reading and it is easier to find time when I really enjoy a story.

I chose ‘Tom Sawyer’ for now. My first book by Mark Twain and I do hope I’ll like it. It was a tie between this one and ‘Great Expectations’ but after reading the first page I ended up with the Twain. And I’m gonna start right now!

My book-crush

3 Feb

Here I am, contemplating whether I’m going to start reading this book again, tonight, the only ‘problem’ being that I already read it 3 times, two of them in the last 2 weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I looooove reading, it’s just that I almost never re-read books (except the one time I re-read Pride and Prejudice), because of all the yet unread books out there and on my shelves.

THE book is “The Good Luck Girl” by Kerry Reichs (also known as Leaving Unknown in the US), in case you were wondering :-) Kerry is the daughter of famous crime novel writer and forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs who’s novels the TV show Bones is based upon. The book I’m kinda obsessed about is Kerry’s second novel featuring the protagonist Maeve Connolly, side character in the first novel “Best Day of Someone Else’s Life”. At first I was reluctant to buy the kind of follow-up book, because Maeve didn’t seem to be that great a character from my first impressions, but the comments on Amazon made me buy it nonetheless. And I’m glad I did! This was in August.

Maeve is 26 years old and at first it appears as if she is just sloppy, living on her parents charity. She finished college but doesn’t have a clue what to do next, especially after losing her bar-tending job. But after 60 pages or so I was hooked, although it takes about another 100 pages to truly understand why Maeve is the way she is now. That being, her having had leukemia when she was a freshman in college and losing her best friend and treatment buddy to this disease.

She decides to take a road trip to California with her bird Oliver in her vintage car to revive an old friendship and to prove to herself that she can indeed finish something she has set her mind to, only to find herself stranded in rural Arizona, because her car breaks down close to the town of Unknown. There, she is forced to stay until her car is repaired, which takes much longer than initially anticipated but is not at all unwelcome. Maeve has to find a job which she does in the town’s only bookstore, owned by handsome Noah also known as a famous children’s book author. Of course she falls in love with him throughout the book and it takes them until the end to find their happiness, it is a great journey for her character. Maeve becomes an inspiration to Noah, who eventually writes her her own book “The Girl who Could” which for me may be the simple greatest thing to do.

All the supporting characters add to make Unknown appear to be the greatest town to be living in, because they are a rather small community and thus know and care for each other.

So why is it, that I’ve read this book three times now? – I am not completely sure, but Maeve just seems such a great character, specially after you learn, why she put her life on hold for so long. It has helped me understand my mom a little bit better (it hasn’t made me much more patient so far, I guess nothing will do that to me). Not that she has leukemia, but brain cancer with a way worse prognosis than the girl in this book. I have always moved away when I read the word ‘cancer’ in a story description long before she was diagnosed. And I haven’t changed much in that way, except for this particular book. Having to live with someone who is currently fighting a war against his or her own body is not as terrible as having to do it yourself, but it still is horrible.

I go through a lot of emotions Kerry Reichs addresses in her book, and it feels good to see I am not alone. I am not comparing myself to a cancer patient here, but just the idea of leaving everything behind and going on a road trip, destination nowhere, is a dream, especially when I feel overwhelmed by everything; the pressure of exams, finishing my university degree, not knowing what to do after graduation and not knowing when your mom is going to die or if treatment will work on her. My love for traveling may also have contributed to my obsession with this book, in which sadness is turned into happiness throughout 390 pages. I cried a lot while reading, especially when Reichs describes Maeve’s feelings upon losing her best friend while simultaneously fighting the same disease. I suppose I cannot truly explain my draw to this book, it just makes me feel warm and happy inside when I really feel crappy about everything. It leaves me in awe, because I will probably never find this man who will dedicate a whole book to me, or any similar outburst of creativity. And I will probably also not become an author myself, although I was always drawn to writing and have tried my hand at several stories, all of whom are not really noteworthy.

To finish this, I know that Maeve is only a fictional character, and I am not the kind of girl who fell in love with a boy band member when I was growing up, I would love to be friends with her. We both share a lot of interests like photography, colorful socks and a love for books and eating. I’m also familiar to the urge to run sometimes in order to get rid of all the tension inside of yourself, so I will probably pick up this book soon again to loose myself in it!

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