Monday, March 29, 2010

4 Books/2 Goals

I am a total sucker for the suggestions makes when I look up a new book. Every once in awhile it leads me to something that makes me laugh so hard that my beverage of the moment comes flying out of my nose. You can't manufacture jolts of happiness like this; you simply appreciate them when the arrive.

Yesterday, Amazon recommended Diana Joseph's I'M SORRY YOU FEEL THAT WAY: THE ASTONISHING BUT TRUE STORY OF A DAUGHTER, SISTER, SLUT, WIFE, MOTHER AND FRIEND TO MAN & DOG. I love the title. But what I love even more is Diana Joseph's blog, particularly the post where she highlights some of the responses to her book--good, bad, and uniformly hysterical.

It makes me a bit jealous, to be honest. I mean, I write specifically about spiritual-type you think even ONE evangelical pastor has written to tell me about the behavior proclivities of his or her pet? No! At least now I have a goal...

In other book news, the weekend's New York Times Book Review was perhaps the best ever in terms of expanding my reading horizons. Titles I'm excited to check out:

THE HOLE WE'RE IN a novel about a family in a credit crunch by Gabrielle Zevin

THE SABBATH WORLD, a memoir about the Forth Commandment by Judith Shulevitz (which appeals to me partly because I'm desperate for a vacation.) It's "deckle edged" which is the publisher's way of saying, This is an IMPORTANT book!

***Trish's Goal #2 (after the evangelical pet review): Write an IMPORTANT book worthy of Deckle Edge!

TO LIVE OR PERISH FOREVER, a memoir of two years in Pakistan. (The author can thank Greg Mortenson for my new interest in Central Asia.)

And to show that I'm not nearly as bookish as this post might indicate, the thing I'm most excited about right now? The Real Housewives of New Jersey will be back May 3rd!!!

Two books & the seduction of privilege

I read two books over the weekend, and the cumulative effect kind of messed with my head.

The first was the novel, THE PRIVILEGES, by Jonathan Dee. At first I loved it--it's well written and fast paced, and (I'll confess) I like reading about characters like this couple who care about no one other than themselves and their own financial/social upward movement. I wouldn't want to know these people, but it was interesting to spend an afternoon in their company. But (without giving too much away) the book bummed me out by the end. The husband & wife never moved even an inch outside of their own wants and needs, even as they became international jet-flying billionaires. There were vague allusions to them "contributing to the world," but that was never connected to anything other than further burnishing their own image. And when their son dabbled in the possibility of doing something that could matter, he hit a roadblock and gave up, retreating into his privileges.

It made me sad because it seems so true. Most of us are tempted to retreat into our privileges, right?

So you can imagine my internal shock when I picked up the next book in my TBR pile, Greg Mortenson's THREE CUPS OF TEA. Talk about not retreating! I loved this book partly because of the nature of Mortenson's mission: building schools for girls in Afghanistan & Pakistan as a way to promote peace. But I love the larger message even more: If you have a dream, it will cost you. There will be setbacks and obstacles, and times when it feels like all is lost. Push through, don't give up, even when it's not easy. Believe that it will be worth it. Don't be seduced by the privileges.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Risk or Opportunity?

Jennifer Love Hewitt has a book out about love??? I'm simultaneously fascinated and horrified. Not in the usual, "Who does she think she is?" way that gets tossed out at authors who don't have their entire lives sewn up into a perfect package (JLH is already getting some of this...I heard about her book in a news alert about how her boyfriend broke up with her right as her book she put it, "Awkward!"). But because it seems like a HUGE risk for her.

She's only thirty-one. Which probably feels old to her in our current society (and multiply that pressure by 1000 when you're an actress). But she has a lot of life ahead of her...and one hopes at least one really great, long-lasting relationship.

As tempting as it is to go public with our mistakes and heartbreaks, I'm really glad my first attempt at a book--one remarkably like JLH's (including the boyfriend who broke up with me after I finished writing about our great love)--was never published. Because by the time I met Steve, I was a different person. He knows my does anyone who read He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (my next attempt). But I think there's something to be said for how Steve had a chance to know me as a person first. Writing things down captures them (and to some extent you) in a specific time, place, and mindset. Which is part of both the beauty of non-fiction...and the risk.

What do you think: mistake or opportunity? Given the chance, would you publish your ups & downs with love?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Like Salt & Pepa: Let's Talk About S-x

I’m giving a talk on spirituality & relationships tonight. Specifically, the physical side of romantic relationships, and how it connects to our interactions with God, ourselves, and the world around us.

(Funny side note: My sister just called. I said, “I can’t talk now...I’m in the weeds...I’m working on a talk about s-x.” To which she replied with a sigh, “Okay, we’ve been over this…never have s-x in the weeds! Now what else don’t you understand?” Love her :) )

Okay, back to tonight: As I’ve thought about approaching this complicated subject, what I keep coming back to is this strange discrepancy--How all too often (if we’re spiritually inclined) it seems like we twist ourselves into a knot trying to figure out:

a.) What God wants from us; and

b.) How we can do what we want to do without losing God's love/blessing/approval.

Even when we’re not quite so blunt about it, the underlying question is often: If I do X with Mr. Y, will I be banished from God's love? So in the heat of the moment it can feel like we’re edging up on this line between us and the land of no return. It's precarious, and not all that helpful.

This perspective has been a disaster for me—avoiding guilt has never been high on my list of motivators (see He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, available at a bookstore near you…)

I think we need an alternative.

Here’s my pitch: What if following God’s suggestions in this area of life isn't just about our relationship with God, but rather our relationship with our future (or current, if we’re married) husband? And what if these suggestions have A LOT more nuance to them than the set of rules they’re often boiled down to?

That's what we’ll be talking about tonight. If you’re near Cambridge, come by and join us: Greater Boston Vineyard, Ministry Center Library (2nd floor) 7:30-8:30pm.

(And if you can't make it tonight, we’ll have this and the other talks in the relationships & spirituality series online soon.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Assorted Observations

It's been a week of funny observations that were simply too good to keep to myself. I'm fasting from most social media for Lent this year (I found that reading 1275 Tweets a day about how prolific/award-winning/accomplished every other author is was bad, bad, bad for my creative process) so when all these important thoughts hit, I had no choice but to speed up the renovations to the blog so I could share. Are you ready?

First: we watched six hours of Star Wars on Saturday night, after which I definitively concluded that C3PO = Tim Gunn. The similarities are stunning. Check it out & you'll see!

Second: THAT DOG has been soaking wet for a week now. We call her Sponge Dog No Pants. (We've had so much rain it's like the lost city of Atlantis here in Cambridge, and when that happens, jokes like this seem really, really funny.)

Third: I watched Keeping Up With The Kardashians for the first time. Three sisters, three different sets of interesting life choices...where to begin? As much as we bemoan the lack of role models for young women today, the success of this show seems to demonstrate a surprising truth: few of us REALLY want role models. What we want is to be entertained. Until we find a way to make a "role model" life look like a fun adventure (and it can be, but we're usually to scared to be honest about how real life unfolds, even for "perfect" people) the Kardashian/Hilton/Jersey Shore contingent will be there to serve up the dumb fun.

So there you have deep thoughts for March :)

I'm working on bigger stuff, though, so stay tuned. There will be event dates for my new book release (and even a sample chapter to share), video of my relationships & spirituality talks, and even musings on the creative process (and how sometimes, "process" simply means WAY more work than you thought possible). But first I had to share all the random, in the hopes that something profound will follow!

Stay warm & happy :)