Memories and Nostalgia

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Nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past. I’m starting to realize as I get older that the things they say about old people living in the past ring true. A lot of what swirls around in my head involves the past.

play-dohThe past is sometimes easier to deal with. The present seems to involve a lot of waiting. Waiting for the work day to end. Waiting for the weekend. Waiting for pay day. Waiting for hubby to come home on the weekend. Waiting for summer to end. Waiting for school to start. Waiting for the next great book to come along. Waiting for the dryer to stop so I can put the next load in. You get the idea. These last few weeks of summer feel endless to me. Maybe I’m just bored.

boredI try not to get bored with blogging. Everyone seems to be walking away from blogging lately. Either consciously – “you won’t see me as much around here” or “I’m taking a break” or unconsciously – the posts just dwindle or stop or you’ll suddenly read “Sorry I’ve been gone so long”. Writing a blog is hard work. Life sometimes gets in the way. I think of favorite blogs I used to read all the time, and it will occur to me that I haven’t seen a post from that blogger in months or maybe I’m just horrible at keeping up with all the blogs I want to read. I blog if I feel I have something interesting to say or share. I notice often that I have something I feel is brilliant, and then I‘ll think “I already said that”. I get that déjà vu feeling, and the post never gets posted. I worry about repeating myself. I probably have already.

Déjà vu is a funny thing. With the newer car we have Sirius satellite radio. I’ve been listening a lot lately to music popular when I was in my teens and 20’s. I love the 70’s and 80’s stations. A friend posted lyrics from an 80’s song on Facebook the other day, and everyone chimed in with the next lyrics from the song. You never forget the songs you grew up with – they’re all buried in your brain somewhere. I can sing along to songs I haven’t heard in 30 or 40 years.

mtvThinking of the 70’s and 80’s made me think about my Dad this morning. He’s been gone since 1987. I was only 28 when he died. I was such an immature 28, too. I lived at home with my parents, I didn’t date, and about the only time I left the house was to go to work. Work at the time had been a nightmare, too. After Dad died, I quit and walked out on that job. I wish I had my Dad here today. I’d love to talk to him now (as an adult). I think I’d appreciate him more now than I did as a 20-something.

I think a lot about things my parents did or said. I went to a Transportation Museum with my younger son this past weekend. Inside they had a lot of old coaches, trolleys and cars on display. They are restored by volunteers on a volunteer basis so many items in the shop were in a state of disrepair. One item in particular caught my eye, and I couldn’t stop looking at it or talking about it. It was an old streetcar (or trolley). My Mother talked all the time about riding the streetcar. This was back before cars and buses. She used to hop a streetcar to ride to the beach or ride downtown. She used to take the streetcar to meet my Dad when they were young. I gazed at the old car and wondered if it was one she’d ridden. I wondered if she would recognize it.

streetcar1streetcar2streetcar3This has been a disjointed post; it feels a bit like an Andy Rooney commentary – rambling from one stray thought to another – that’s how my mind has been these past few weeks.

First Three Images courtesy of Pinterest

Donna Reads: The Golem and the Jinni

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golemIn the Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, Chava is a Golem, a creature created from clay, and Ahmad is a Jinni, a fire-based creature (or a genie).  The tagline for the story describes “two misplaced magical beings on a journey through turn-of-the-century New York.”  Chava has been created as a wife for a strange and lonely misfit who decides to bring her with him from Poland to New York. He dies while onboard ship and she is left without a master. Ahmad has been imprisoned for thousands of years in a flask, and he is accidentally freed by a tinsmith trying to repair the flask. There is also an evil character in the book, and both Chava and Ahmad must work together against this character to survive.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this book.  I selected it for my book club to read this month based on reviews that I read. Since I chose it, I feel like I should like the book.  Did I like it?  Yes and no.  It was very different.  I like stories that show a lot of imagination and make you think.  This story definitely had and did that.  It wasn’t what I expected it to be, though.  It was very readable, and the pages went by quickly. I did feel at times like it was taking forever to finish it, and at times it seemed like a chore to get through it.  I’m not sure I liked the main characters.  At first I felt sorry for Chava, but when she showed her true nature a few times in the story, I found her frightening and did not like her much at all.  I never connected with her character. Ahmad’s true nature made him careless, dangerous and selfish.  I did grow to like his character more as the story went on.

I didn’t like that the author called the characters “the Golem” and “the Jinni” throughout the book. That aspect only served to remind me that they weren’t human, and I think that was her intent. It seemed that at some point she should have transitioned to calling them by their names. The characters are only called by their names by other characters in the book. Chava was given her name by her friend, the Rabbi. He finds her wandering the city, and recognizing her for what she is, he befriends her and helps her. Ahmad was given his name by Arbeely, the tinsmith who frees him from the flask. It is mentioned several times that he already has a name, but it is never given, and he decides to go by “Ahmad” – a name that he says he dislikes. I thought that was odd and kept wondering what his real name was.

Although the characters resembled humans, they did not always behave in a human-like manner. In the questions and answers section at the back of my Kindle version, Helene Wecker mentions Chava being like Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek. Unlike Chava, I never found Data to be frightening.  He was always child-like and endearing in a way. I didn’t feel that way about Chava. There was always this dangerous, ominous part of her.  She was made to protect and care for her master, and she was dangerous if she thought someone was being harmed.

I applaud the author’s attention to detail and the time she spent on her research.  It took her seven years to research and write this novel.  I found parts of it confusing especially when she jumped from one character’s viewpoint to another or jumped around in the timeline.  Overall, I am glad that I read the book. I am left, however, with the feeling of “what did I just read?”

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