Month: October 2014

Book People

So I’m exploring all these new-to-me authors who fall under the category of “literary fiction,” according to the Adult Reading Round Table. I have this handy list from a fellow librarian, and my, am I having fun with it. For some of the authors, it’s clear to me that reading one book is more than enough. However, I’m amazed and energized by the number of authors whose work inspires the reaction, “Where have you been all my life?”

Chris Bohjalian, where have you been all my life?

Marisa de los Santos, where have you been all my life?

See? See what fun I’m having?

I’m even doing the second-chance thing with some authors. For instance, my book club read Geraldine Brooks’ novel March a couple of years ago. Except that I didn’t. I don’t know if I’ve read Little Women too many times or what, but I just could not get going with March. And then, lo and behold, Geraldine Brooks  came up on my handy book list, and I wanted to get her checked off my list, so I tried again with People of the Book.

And my gosh, am I glad that I did.

Geraldine Brooks, where have you been all my life? And why, oh why, didn’t I appreciate you before?

People of the Book is a fantastic read. Ms. Brooks has a gift for moving her settings back-and-forth between contemporary culture and centuries past. And each story from the past has a link to the eponymous book in the title.  It’s sheer craftsmanship, I’m telling you.

And I love that the contemporary setting is in Sarajevo. I never knew much about Sarajevo, except from the news stories back in the 1990’s, about the violence and the ethnic cleansing and the other unhappy events that were newsworthy. I’m grateful for a more thoughtful, literary view of an Eastern European city, particularly this one.

Well, I’ll tell you what. I’m going back to try again with March.

Except I’ll have a terrible time getting through this author list, if I keep falling in love with the authors and passionately pursuing and reading every book they’ve ever written.

And that, my darlings, is a beautiful problem to have.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy


Socially Awkward

Does it seem a little, well, high school to you, when people post pictures of themselves and their friends on That Certain Social Media Site? I mean, I’ve always been a little camera-shy myself, so I don’t appear in a lot of candid photos. And now, in my forties, I’ve never yet taken a selfie. I do have friends my age, and older, who definitely think it is the thing to take and post a group shot at a restaurant or when they are all glammed up ready to go out. And I’m sorry, but every time I see one of those I think high school yearbook. And not in a good way. Can we seriously get beyond behaving like a bunch of seventeen-year-olds, twenty-five years later? I guess not.

It’s also weird when you see one person who you think is really very nice, posing with a couple of other people who are really just mean. And I know, I know, this sounds a little high school of me, too. But still, it weirds me out. Evidently, the nice person doesn’t think her friends are mean people. Does that mean she’s maybe not really as nice as you think? Or that she just is able to get beyond certain behavior attributes, in a way that makes you feel small because you still die inside when you realize you have to be in the same room with those same people?

Why, yes. I am socially awkward. How did you guess?

Certain behaviors, such as catty questioning and snide assumptions, still do cause me to freeze up and shut down in the presence of certain other people. Maybe I’m such a quiet person in general, that this is not terribly obvious. Maybe it’s clear to everyone that I am passionately wishing myself elsewhere. How can I tell? And wondering about it too much makes me anxious and unhappy, so I do try not to dwell on this kind of thing too often.

Unfortunately, there are times when you are simply stuck. There you are, through no fault of your own, right on the fringes of the Bitch Clique. None of those women are going to talk to you, and so you sit there, alone, trying desperately to remember your real friends, who are nowhere in sight and can’t help you; and trying desperately not to focus on yourself and your aloneness, because that will only make you more upset and you really just want to be in that place where you know you are a good and worthwhile person, even when the people immediately around you can’t see that, and not care what they think, but there you are, and it just isn’t time to leave yet. Yes. I am too sensitive. And I don’t really think there’s much hope, anymore, that I will grow out of it.

The kind of amusing part is the assumption that prevails in Bitch Cliques; the assumption that because you are quiet, you are also blind and deaf. It would clearly be the act of a sneak and a varlet to go around telling tales on people. Still, I wonder about some friendships. I wonder if they would still exist if some of those women knew the way their very dear friends talk about them behind their backs, within the hearing of someone who doesn’t count because she doesn’t talk.

I mean, I talk about other people too. I’m not that high-minded. But I only talk about other people when I am very sure I can’t be overheard.

I know those quiet types. I’m one of them. I know how much you hear and see when you are on the outside. And I know quite a few people who should think before they open their mouths and start talking about their very dear friends.

So it’s kind of funny and sad when you see them posing in a photo on social media.

Because you are the quiet one, and you know what you’ve heard.

Love you and leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

Purely Spontaneous

This may be completely obvious to anyone who’s ever read this blog (and thank you, thank you if you have!); however, I have decided just to come right out and say it: I never edit a blog post. At least, I don’t edit in any serious way. I will re-read it once or twice before I publish, just in case I made any glaring spelling or usage errors, but that’s the extent of my editing process.

In fact, last week I tried what WordPress described as the “improved posting experience, ” merely because I occasionally like to kid myself that I’m really cutting edge with new technologies and I’m not afraid to try them. However, the new posting experience delayed my posting for probably about seven minutes, and those seven minutes drove me absolutely batty. Clearly, I am not a very patient person. I want to write it and publish it and get it right out there. I am back to the classic posting experience, and I am extremely comforted by the link I can see, right over there, that says “Publish immediately.” If not sooner! Impatient me!

I don’t know, blogging just seems to be a form of writing that is spontaneous and casual. I don’t want it to come across as over-thought and over-edited. And with my current process, there is small danger of that!

Also, when I try to write fiction, the editing part is the part that just kills me. Nothing I write ever sounds good enough, none of my characters ever appear natural enough, and as for my attempts at a plot, oh my. Editing is when my brain takes up its scalpel to dissect every sentence I’ve written and show me why it’s terrible. I’m pretty sure that if I ever started editing a blog post, I would never publish anything. And how will I get better if I get stuck in the editing process? And stay there, paralyzed, too afraid to go on?

I’m actually thinking about maybe trying NaNoWriMo once again, and I think this year I will do myself a favor and just not read anything that I wrote the previous day. I’m sitting here, right now, imagining myself committing to the double discipline of writing a certain number of words per day (how many is it again? Do they say? I haven’t taken part in NaNoWriMo in so long I can’t remember) AND of resisting the temptation to go back and read what I’ve already written.

Oh, yes, AND  the discipline of keeping this blog going for November, too. A triple crown!

Do I have it in me? The discipline to do all of this? I guess we won’t know until November 30.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

Who am I, anyway?

Every so often, I second-guess my decision to publish this blog pseudonymously. The spellchecker doesn’t like the word “pseudonymously,” but you all know what I mean, right? I kind of like the word “pseudonymously,” it’s multi-syllabic and clunky and I should probably say “under a pseudonym” instead (oh, look! The spellchecker likes me again!) but I just can’t help myself. Pseudonymously, pseudonymously, pseudonymously! Take a long walk off a short pier, spellchecker!

(Side note: the spellchecker likes “spellchecker” but not “spellcheck.” That is so meta, spellchecker! And there’s another clunky word for our lexicon, too. Try saying “spellchecker” five times fast.)

Well, so I chose Hobbie DeHoy for my super-secret pseudonym. And I have kept it super-secret. The disadvantage of this is that I’m not going around telling my real-life friends and family to read my blog. I’m not announcing it on facebook. I’m not forwarding a link to it via email. I’m just secretly pounding away at the keyboard here, convinced that if anybody I know ever read this, I would be losing friends right and left.

Maybe I’m wrong about that. But, you know, it is really kind of fun to have this blog be my little secret. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I’ve gotten to the point where reading whatever people say on facebook and looking at all their posted pics (oh, God, way too many pics) is such a turn-off for me that I now believe that all those other people wouldn’t really like what I have to say either. And we’ll just never know, will we, because of the mystique of the pseudonym.

Do other bloggers have real-world friends following them? They probably do. I’m probably much more cowardly than most people. Hobbie DeHoy, the Cowardly Blogger. That’s me.

Maybe I’m just socially awkward. But that doesn’t really matter within the context of this blog, does it? By choosing to publish under another name, I am, in a way, publishing outside of the context of my actual society. I’m writing in a fantasy world here, people. Maybe I should try writing fantasy as a genre, since evidently I really enjoy it when my writing has no connection to the actual world around me.

Are there any fantasy writers out there? Are any of you as sneaky and secretive as I am?

I do get a little bit of a thrill out of writing under a pseudonym, so I won’t give it up. Even though that might get me more followers. I’ve always been my own worst enemy.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

Falling Down

I live in the Midwest, and it seems like everybody loves fall. The leaves turning color! The crisp air! The pumpkins, the apples, the squash! Whatever weird autumn flavor Starbucks has come up with! Time to get the sweaters out!

Well, not me. My birthday is in September, and I always hated having a birthday close to the beginning of the school year. A birthday that has nothing to do with school? Now that would be a cause to celebrate!

Crisp air means dry air, which means I’m constantly rubbing lotion into my hands. My sinuses hurt all the time, and I’ve got this ongoing, mildly-distressing feeling that even though I’m not sick right this minute, some dread head cold is stalking me down. It’s only a matter of hours, or possibly days.

Crisp air also makes me sleepy. And cranky, too, because I feel like I should be out there hiking around, glorying in the changing leaves, soaking in some of the last remaining sunshine as the year is waning. But I’m too sleepy to get excited about undue amounts of hiking around. I just want to nap the autumn away. Except I don’t really, because all too soon the sky will be gray and the sidewalks will be slushy and possibly snowy and I won’t be *able* to take nice long walks. And then I’ll regret all those sunshiny autumn afternoons that I spent napping, because crisp air makes me sleepy. This is the very definition of a no-win situation.

My family does go apple-picking every autumn, and that I do enjoy. Pick-your-own apples are crispier and sweeter and an altogether more optimal experience than store-bought apples. But, you know. That’s one afternoon out of a season that lasts for months.

Pumpkins are pretty. Mums are pretty. Gourds are pretty. Some people are very imaginative with their Halloween lawn decor. There are, of course, plenty of things to like about the fall.

But you know what fall really is? It’s the tunnel that leads to winter. It’s the season when the days get shorter and flowers and leaves are dying everywhere you look. It’s the season that inspired a holy day called the Day of the Dead.

Yes, I view the fall as a melancholy time of year. And it’s even more melancholy because I feel alone in my low spirits. All my Midwestern neighbors are reveling in this annual frenzy of hay mazes, hay rides, apple butter festivals, and haunted houses. I just feel sort of sad all the time.

Well, there’s nothing actually morally wrong about hunkering down a little early. Give me a cardigan, a quilt, and a whole stack of library books to enjoy.

And, since it’s that time of year, maybe some hot apple cider to go along with that.

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy

Existential Angst

I’ll tell you what: never be flip about your existential crisis on social media. You will get no sympathy whatsoever, and all you will get are comments exhorting you to change your haircut or get a tattoo.

I guess people don’t look for or expect subtlety on That Certain Social Media Site. I mean, for heaven’s sake, even if you’re joking about your existential angst, you’re still feeling it. And, well, angst, you know. It’s not a very fun feeling to have. Masking pain with flippancy is evidently way too subtle for the world of facebook.  As I have discovered to my cost.

Fortunately for me, I’ve got this lovely little blog here, where I can wax queenishly dramatic about existential angst. For me, angst is a state of being where you are seriously questioning every decision you’ve ever made (“Should I have gone to school for a second graduate degree? Why didn’t I make my own career more of a priority when I was first starting out?”), you are feeling slightly unsettled and unhappy in your current state and are not really sure what you want to do about it, and you are wondering, with trepidation, what the future holds, and what decisions you might or might not make to get you to a happier spot. Added to this is the fear that any changes you make might inadvertently lead you to an even less happy spot than where you are now. Angst, I’m telling you. Angst.

Maybe this is merely a mid-life crisis. Well, whatever. That term doesn’t even come near to reaching the level of internal drama that is boiling away while I am trying to figure out my path forward, while functioning on the surface as a nice level-headed adult. I will be a drama queen and refer to my emotional state as existential angst. And this is my blog, and I can be a drama queen if I want. There.

And darn it, we just don’t live in an era where I can ship aboard the Pequod and spend the next part of my life on a fiendish search for a great white whale. Ishmael was very fortunate in that respect. I imagine you stop contemplating the ills of the universe while you’re busy dodging harpoons and hanging on to the mast by your fingertips.

Oh, look, now I’m being flippant about existential angst AND about Moby Dick. But you all know that I’m only laughing on the outside right now, and you will be kinder to me than those shallow souls on facebook.

Won’t you?

Love you & leave you,

Hobbie DeHoy