Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm at it again....


I have always been reluctant to give my opinion about a book in a review because as I have said in the previous reviews "I liked it" doesn't quite capture the true essence of the book, but I was compelled to break down and write a review about Billy London's newest book On Caristo's Watch. Why you may ask, and well Billy I'm sorry but I'm going to have to be honest, mostly because Lydia is me. Now Billy I'm sure you didn't want this to get out but with the following facts I think it will be hard to keep the secret.

1. Lydia is a nurse and I work in the medical profession of sorts (I'm a mental health professional).
2. Tony is Italian and I am married to an Italian (He's also Irish just for future reference).
3. Lydia is an African raised in Ireland and I am of African and Irish descent.
4. Lydia is kick ass and well I think it goes without saying that I am pretty kick ass myself.

Yes, you may point out that whole mob connection thing, and all though Sig Other isn't in a Family, he could be homicidal if pushed to it. Obviously some creative licence was taken but in the end this is totally my story. Now imagine my surprise when it was told with such poignant insight and spot on humor. On Caristo's Watch does a fabulous job of mirroring Windows (there may have been a pun in there) in that as a sequel it fits seamlessly into the time line of the first book so that you have the pleasure of revisiting moments of Windows in your head while being immersed in the new story. 

As with Windows I appreciate the way Billy plays with the concepts of what is good and bad or right and wrong. Tony is a criminal and there is no sugar coating that, but he is a criminal that fits nicely into the romantic fantasy of what the reader may think of as his "type" of criminal. I don't really want to know about the seedier parts of his profession because his bad is oh so good that it feels right that it is so wrong. He protects those that he loves and lives by a code of honor that bends a bit to allow him to be a criminal but still retain some aspect of his humanity. It is lovely and complex but superbly simple in its execution that you don't get boggled by esoteric notions of crime and punishment. 

Lydia is a woman with a problem but instead of being burdened by her problem or spending endless amounts of time obsessing about said problem, she goes to the head of a mob family to handle this problem. I actually really liked this concept because not only did she get Tony for her ingenuity but it cut through what could have been endless amounts of obsessing about what to do. It also created Lydia as a perfect foil to Tony's good/bad, right/wrong persona. She is a "good" person that found herself in a "bad" situation and must do something "wrong" in order for her life to start being "right" again. Brilliant I must say because it plays well with the White Knight dichotomy but with a twist because the Knight may have stolen the horse.

The book also flows in such a way that if you haven't read Windows you can still appreciate the characters in On Caristo's Watch, which is the hallmark of a good spin off. Of course why you haven't read Windows yet makes me give you the squinty eye and wonder what's wrong with you. 

Great story and great job Billy. Oh and Billy dear, it really was so kind of you to do this for me. Now when you create Luca and Rocky's story feel free to create Sig Other in their image as well. Oh and if you are contemplating ethnicity's for your heroine, I'm also of German and Scottish descent, just so you know.

I got kinda fancy and created the title with a hyperlink in the beginning but if it doesn't open you can find Billy's book and it's description at Beautiful Trouble Publishing.

Janet (or is it Lydia...ummmm)

Monday, July 18, 2011

The ball took a bad hop...

Well Hello,

I was recently having a conversation with two of my co-workers about personal accountability and how we foster that in children. It all started because my co-workers three year old asked him for something and my co-worker said he would do it later, adding just as his little son went to walk away, "Make sure you hold me accountable." We all chuckled because it seemed like such an odd thing to say to a three year old but my co-worker said he wanted to start early.

Driving home that day I started thinking about how personal accountability was fostered in me as a child. What immediately came to mind were the times I would say I couldn't do something because "so and so" prevented me or it was hard for me to learn something because "so and so" didn't make it easy and my mother would simply ask, "The ball took a bad hop?" I'm sure dear reader you're probably wondering what the hell does that have to do with personal accountability, well let me explain.

My mother would quote this commercial endlessly when I was a child. As it was in circulation a good decade before I was born I only have her and some of my cousins recollection of how it went. I believe it may have been a cereal commercial but the premise was there was a little boy that complained about how everything prevented him from playing baseball well. His line was, "The ball took a bad hop, the sun was in my eyes, and this glove is too big. I tripped over that rock, stupid rock."

The line was always delivered in this whiny sing song manner that implied that the speaker was incapable of seeing their part in what went wrong. No personal accountability. It was an affective tool for me as a child and even into my adult years. Until I realized sometimes the ball really does take a bad hop and the fucking sun is in my eyes, these damn gloves are way too big for me, and that stupid rock was in my way. Personal accountability can only go so far when life is determined to get in your way.

Which brings me to the crux of this narrative. How do you teach someone they have to be responsible for their actions knowing there will be times when somethings are just out of their control?

It's a good thing I only have cats;)


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What's your favorite flower?

Bonjour mon ami,

For the 4th of July weekend Sig Other and I took a trip up to Napa with our close couple friends B&H, the second trip we've made with the couple because they are the BEST people to travel with. It's like having our own tour guides/concierge/DJs and if you've ever taken a trip for any extended period up the 5 North you know that great traveling companions are a must. It was during one of the inevitable moments that happens on a road trip where everyone is talked out, the radio gets a little louder and the barren landscape starts to lull one into a state of reflection that Sig Other started one of those conversations that alters the way that I see how he sees me.

I was watching the landscape of dry grass, not so happy looking cows and more dry grass fly by as I sat in the front passenger seat when Sig Other asked as he drove, "What's your favorite flower?" Now this question was particularly interesting because I struggle with labeling anything my "favorite". I feel that there is a great deal of expectation in the answer and how it reflects on you as a person, particularly to the person that is asking. What if your favorite is something they completely hate and now you feel obligated to justify your choice or they share the same, are you now instantly bonded by this connection even if you detest everything else about the person? Is your favorite hip enough or cool enough and what if you change your mind, only to be labeled with this "favorite" thing indefinitely? Of course I have a tendency to over think things, like to the nth degree, so this spiralling internal dialogue of neurosis is probably something unique to me...but I digress.

What I really struggle with is I am constantly changing and evolving as a person that I find it difficult to think of something as my favorite constantly when my desires and taste can shift so dramatically from the present to the future. But this is Sig Other and I decide to play along and say, "The sunflower," because in that moment it was the flower that spoke to me the most (yes that is new agey but what can I say, I'm from California). To which Sig Other replied, "That's what I thought."

Well of course I'm now immensely curious because where as I pulled that answer from a place housed in my present reflection, a reflection that could be altered a year from the date I was asked the question, Sig Other sounded so sure in his assessment of what a "favorite" thing of mine may be. I asked him, "What made you think that?" Now this question could be answered in a variety of ways by my illustrious better half, falling into two major categories. He could be romantic in his response causing me to smile and think how lucky I am to have him or he could be romantically clumsy in his response causing me to roll my eyes and think how lucky I am to have him.

What he said was, "I knew you would pick the sunflower because it's strong like you. A rose or flower like that seems too delicate, not sturdy enough." Looking over I could see his brow crinkling in concentration as he sought the words to express himself, as he stared out onto the open road. It was romantic and to a woman that doesn't have such a abiding confidence in her self worth as myself the "sturdy" aspect may have been a tad bit unromantic, but for me it was honest and I wouldn't have had it any other way. Smiling I reached over and squeezed his hand resting on the center console of the car and thought maybe the sunflower would be my favorite flower a little longer than I expected.