Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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LIVE Like Your Life Depends On It (How I Want To LIVE)

If you missed my Eat Like Your Life Depends On It posts, you can catch up here:

ELYLDOT (Which It Does)

ELYLDOT (How I Used To Eat)

ELYLDOT (How I Began To Eat)

ELYLDOT (How I Got Overwhelmed)

life, organic eating, healthy, happy

Kate Burn Photography

I’m writing about all of this because food, health, local and organic growing has become a passion of mine in the last few years. I care about what people eat, how it’s grown, how the animals we eat are raised and the impact that big agriculture has on our environment and health.

But I never, ever, want to sound preachy or know-it-ally. That’s my worst nightmare.

Which is why, I think, I have avoided writing the next post. Yes, avoided. Can you believe it? Each day I thought to myself, eh, I can write this tomorrow.  Write WHAT tomorrow, though?

Maybe I’ll share what a typical week of eating looks like? Maybe I’ll write more about the books I read that led me to eating this way. Maybe I’ll mention again how I don’t have a TV and how much better I believe my life is for it.

Maybe I’ll write nothing?

Nothing wasn’t an option. Partly because I got an e-mail from my future novel. Partly because I’m home sick today and all I have is time, tissue, and hot beverages to distract me. I knew this day would come eventually, and then I got inspired by a friend (which always happens at the most poignant of times.) My friend Jenny over at JenEric Generation posted a blog about change and not being afraid to make your blog, or life, a little bit different than it used to be. I refuse to fall into the puddle of despair!

So maybe I’ll write about all of these things, and have fun while doing it. Here we go.

More than a few people asked me to write about what I eat. This was exciting for me because it’s not like I get a crazy amount of comments or concerns or questions revolving around Hey Lou… but the ones I do get mean so much to me that I could burst.

WHAT I EAT

Don’t be disappointed, okay? I have started cooking almost all of my food, but that doesn’t mean I’m some awesome cook. I’m often told I didn’t use enough salt. I’m often told to change it up a little bit. But here are some truths:

1) I am entirely content eating the exact same thing for up to three weeks (or more). If I find something I love, I’ll just get in a groove and make it every day. Some people need more variety. I am not one of those people.

2) I don’t need a crazy amount of salt or sweetener to enjoy something. I know a girl who literally brings a sweet potato, a tiny container of peanut butter, a slice of cabbage, and a hard boiled egg for lunch. She loves to taste each thing on its own. I think that’s lovely and amazing. I don’t do quite that, but I can also use the yolk of an egg to add flavor and texture, rather than make a dressing for a salad…

3) I love to do this. Some people don’t. However, I didn’t used to love it. I learned to love it.

Recently, I’ve been able to get tons of potatoes. I get my produce primarily from my harvest box from Skarsgard, where I’m doing a farming internship, and there have been tons of potatoes for pick up, and you can even double up on that option in most cases. (Bonus to anyone who understands that lingo. Double Up Option, anyone?) ANYWAY. I have tons of potatoes. What do I do with them?

Here’s what I’ve had for breakfast and lunch for about three weeks now:

(this is a recipe that I split up for both meals, so cut in half if you want this for ONE meal)

Ingredients:

4-5 potatoes, diced

1 onion, diced

3-4 chard, kale, or collard leaves (or throw in any green you want!) sliced or chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 zucchini, sliced (or bell peppers, carrots, or anything else I happen to have at the moment)

2 eggs

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

Heat up a pan with the EVOO and first add the “hardest” ingredients. I always add the onion first in any recipe. Then the potatoes. Then the carrots or bell peppers or zucchini, whichever I am adding.

***Here’s a very simple trick: You’re cooking this stuff in oil, right? A great way to “steam” these items and quicken up the softening process is to have your LID ready, pour in a small amount of water, and cover with the lid quickly. It will spurt all over your kitchen and you if you don’t cover. But with the cover on, the elements in your pan will kind of go nuts, and in the process, everything will get steamed in a way that turns out awesome. Just wait a minute until everything settles down. This doesn’t take too much water. 

I let these cook for a while. I like the potatoes to be black on some spots, I love for some onion to be slightly burned. I’ll use a fork to test the potatoes and carrots. Once everything is the way YOU want it, add your tomatoes and greens. These will cook and soften right away. 

Lastly, add your egg. I like to make a hole in the middle of the pan, add more EVOO, and throw the egg in and scramble it in the center, then eventually mix it all together.

Occasionally, I’ll add a pinch of salt or soy sauce or curry. Occasionally.

Seriously, that’s it. Want another one? Okay. I’ll give you another one.

Ingredients:

arugula, a giant handful

lemon juice, half a lemon

peas, frozen or fresh

1 egg

Directions:

Lay down your arugula. heat up the peas, pour over greens. Squeeze on the lemon juice. Cook your egg over easy and add to the salad.

It’s that easy! Folks, I ate this arugula breakfast for, NO JOKE, three months. I felt more energized than ever before. I noticed my thighs feeling a little bit… tighter. You know what I mean. To this day, I cannot eat oatmeal or cereal or a muffin for breakfast. I eat vegetables, and always with some sort of leafy green. And almost always with an egg (or two.)

Instead of just laying down a solid week of eating, I’ll give you a few recipes in each post (or every few posts, whichever happens naturally!) Sound good? Good!

On to other topics. Did anyone notice how I named this blog LIVE Like Your Life Depends On It, rather than Eat? That was due to good ol’ Jenny’s blog, and I decided to change it … just because it felt right. Eating is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to have a great life, but it’s the way we live out our days that matter most.

life, living, healthy, passions

Kate Burn Photography

If you start off your day with vegetables (preferably organic, because who wants to start off their day with chemicals?), a walk, or some sort of movement, how could you have a bad day? That rude customer won’t seem to vile. That guy who cut you off on the highway must be having a bad day, but you sure aren’t. See what I mean? These changes happened for me little by little until one day, I was just an all around positive person. I have my “bad” days but they are rare. For the most part I’d rather laugh at a stupid joke while eating a great home-cooked meal, while pondering my next writing adventure…

WHICH LEADS ME TO THE E-MAIL I RECEIVED FROM MY FUTURE NOVEL.

It might be because the online writing group I’m a part of sends out e-mails of this kind to inspire, but I prefer to think that How We Lost Our Minds actually sent me a message from the future. From: YOUR NOVEL. Message: PLEASE WRITE ME THIS NOVEMBER.

I’m almost done with How We Lost Our Minds, so maybe this is from the next project. I still haven’t decided. It could be from the much better, clearly organized and edited, version of the current one. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. After all, November isn’t that far away.

Even more than I cannot live without organic food and partaking in growing that food, I cannot live without writing. It’s why I have this blog. It’s why I’m trying to get published… and why I’ll never give up.

I want to live in this way because it’s the only way I know to be healthy and content.

You guys, if you don’t have a passion, that is probably what you need to change before you even think about what you’re cooking for your next meal. Without something to stay alert and active and healthy for, then a meal is just a meal. It isn’t charging you up for the life you want, is it? This is me trying to hard not to be preachy, but to be inspirational. I’ve shared with you all how unhappy I was before I changed the way I eat, but I realized that at almost the exact same time I changed my eating lifestyle, I also began to WRITE.

They went hand in hand. They are both such a large part of my life, that I’d be lost without the other.

I can’t explain why loving my characters and what they go through connects so strongly with what I put into my body, but it does.

What do YOU have that is worth staying healthy for? What changes have you made? Who do you want to inspire?

How are you LIVING like your LIFE depends on it?

I’d love to know :)

Love, LOU

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She’s Come Undone: Worth The Hype?

“I usually learn more from the situations I hate than the ones I love.” -She’s Come Undone

Unfortunately, if you were to replace “situation” with “book,” the same would not be true.

Wally Lamb stole my heart when he wrote I Know This Much Is True. I couldn’t believe such a great book even existed. I connected with it on many levels, I felt for the characters (even ones I couldn’t really relate to at all) and the story came back around in a way I didn’t expect.

She’s Come Undone did none of those things.

I know, I know. It made Oprah’s Book Club list! How could I say it was less than perfect? He brings up sensitive topics and is one of the first to have an overweight protagonist!! Melinda! WHAAAT?

I’ll explain.

First let me tell you, I love the fact that Wally Lamb went outside the box with this book. It was a page turner. Half the time. But I would never bring up this book in a conversation. I’d never talk about it passionately and tell you, “You must read this book! It’s a life changer!”

I love to tell people these things. Loooove it. It’s part of why I read: so I can share and connect and talk to others.

Not only did Wally Lamb do something original by creating a main character who was largely obese, but he also made one with almost zero redeeming qualities. Yes, Delores Price had some horrible shi*t handed to her in life. Yes, I felt awful, just awful, for what she endured. But guess what? I didn’t actually like her. Not from page one. Call me crazy, but I guess in order to truly dive into a book, the lead role needs to be filled by someone worth reading about. Delores Price bored me and I thought she was rude.

I know that the fact that she was so rude was part of her life story. But stillll.

That’s probably why I am giving this a bad review, yet millions have loved it, and (OMG) someone once told me it was “better than his other book.” Please.

I was also perplexed by something. Because, you know, in this day and age, people love to be offended. I think half the population thrives off this weird energy of negativity and want to be offended by anything and everything. I am not one of those people, this book didn’t offend me, but I wondered:

“Was anyone offended by the fact that the obese main character in this book was raped? As if all people who can’t manage their weight have been through something horrible, and that’s why?”

OR

“Were people glad that he was pointing out the fact that obese people shouldn’t be judged? Maybe they’ve had a very difficult life and even though they seem unsociable and rude and sit in the corner of every room, they’re actually great people worth getting to know.”

WHEW. That was hard to type. Because obesity is a very hard topic. Weight in general is a difficult topic for almost any person (ummm, girl, I’d say any girl), no matter what they weigh or what they actually look like.

I have known bigger woman who were the life of the party. I’ve known some who were shy. I’ve known some with the luckiest lives ever and some with terrible moments in their history.

I have also known tiny, normal sized, and any other category of women (or men) you can think of who have had these same personality traits.

EVERYONE IS JUST SOOOO DIFFERENT.

That being my disclaimer, I still couldn’t help but wonder why this book struck a chord with so many. Why did it become the big huge hit that it became?

I think it’s because whether or not Delores Price was someone we actually liked, people loved the controversial topic. Maybe some people could look past her personality and look only toward the story that was about a big girl… because that’s rarely done in literature.

I kept thinking, “Even if this was a skinny girl, I wouldn’t like her very much. I’d still feel bad for her, but yeah…. no emotion attached, Delores. Sorry.”

I honestly don’t have much else to say. In the parts where I was supposed to cry, I didn’t.

That pretty much says it all.

Have you read it? Are you mad at me, you She’s Come Undone lover???

Do you agree with me? Anyone?

Read it and let me know!

(And sorry, Wally. I really do love you.)

 

Love,

Lou

 

 


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2+2=4 {Not Just A Math Equation}

Update: WE HAVE BEEN BUILDING OUR CHICKEN COOP ALL DAY!!!!

but you can’t say I’ve missed day 4 of the challenge… it’s not midnight yet! The challenge continues…

Day 4, Saturday: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it

First off- The Runner Ups:

You are what what you eat eats. -Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. -Ray Bradbury

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good. -John Steinbeck, East of Eden

I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy. Holden in Catcher In The Rye, J.D. Salinger

All right, then, I’ll go to hell. – Huck Finn in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

(Pat yourself on the back if you can tell WHY those are quotes I think of each day.)

Drum roll please… my favorite quote of all time is this:

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. -Winston in 1984, George Orwell

Have you read this book? If not, you should. I think it’s the most imperative read out there.

I’ll tell you why.

We are living in a day and age when media and advertisements rule all. One story in the news will disappear while another shows up out of the blue, telling us something completely different. It’s confusing.

One example:

Drink milk- we all need our calcium. What those ads don’t tell you is that drinking milk is one of the worst ways to get calcium into your body. In fact, calcium is actually stripped away in order to process the milk. Dr. Frank Sabatino, PhD (as quoted in Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran) says, “Bone health is not dependent on the calcium you take in, but on the calcium you keep in. Calcium, in its charged state, can be used to alkalinize the body by buffering or neutralizing acidity. As the body becomes more acidic from a diet high in animal protein, it will pull calcium out of the bones to neutralize the negative effects of acidity and inflammation.” Also: Scandinavia and the USA have the highest rates of hip fracture. And the highest dairy intake. (the good news- we can get our calcium where the cow got hers, through greens. one cup of collard greens has more mg of calcium than a cup of milk)

I won’t even get into the more depressing “facts” floating around. There are too many.

If you read 1984, you will see that Winston is conflicted. His job is to take yesterday’s news, make it disappear, and replace it with today’s news. He sees the error in this because the news stories are always opposites.

“We are at war with Eurasia” one day.

“We were never at war with Eruasia, we are now at war with Eastasia” the next.

Winston knows that they were at war with Eurasia. He remembers it. But that is not the way he is supposed to think.

War is peace.

Freedom is Slavery.

Ignorance is Strength.

That’s what Winston is supposed to believe. But guess what? He doesn’t. He knows that as long as he is aware of the Truth, he will be free. He can pretend to agree with the government. He can go with the flow of the crowd. As long as he can think the Truth.

When Winston is faced with the toughest, challenging moment of his life, here’s what he’s told:

‘How can I help it?’ [Winston] blubbered. ‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’

‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’

Do you think it’s enough? To know the truth and hold onto it no matter what? Do you think that if you were in jail for years and years, but you still had your own freedom of thought and knowledge, that you would in some way, actually feel free? I honestly don’t know if I’m that strong. It’s scary to think about. All I know is that I will take Ray Bradbury’s advice and never stop reading. We can’t stop reading, ever.

We need to believe what Winston believed. We can’t let anything take that away from us. (Um, I won’t spoil the ending, but just know, your life will never be the same after reading 1984.)

If I ever get a tattoo, it will say: two and two make four.

Because freedom truly is the ability to say something real, even when the government (or any “higher power”) tries to tell you otherwise.

2+2=4.

It’s true.

What idea or quote do you hold onto as a way of living life?

<3 Lou


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The {Short} Story of Lou

Today I am participating in a challenge…

to write a blog each day in the month of May.

When I woke up today I had no such agenda. But when I looked at my blogging friend Jenny‘s blog, and saw that she was going to do this challenge… based on this other girl, Jenni‘s blog… well, I just had to join in. I will try my hardest.

Each day is guided with a prompt, which is pretty cool. Today’s blog?

Day 1, Wednesday: The story of your life in 250 words or less (or one paragraph… no one will be counting your words… probably)

new mexico, writer, young adult

see? always meant to be in NM :)

Melinda Grey (Wilder) Williams never wanted to be a writer. She grew up a pastor’s kid (still is one to this day {Lutheran, in case you were wondering}) and was born in Virginia, lived in Minnesota, until finally coming to New Mexico, which she considers home. When all the kids in class knew what they wanted to be, Melinda stayed quiet and simply couldn’t decide. But she always loved to read. Her first favorite book was Where The Red Fern Grows. Then it was To Kill a Mockingbird. Later on in life, she discovered many more books (Catcher in the Rye, A Prayer for Owen Meany, 1984, Middlesex, etc) that continued to change her life. She considers Tom Joad in Grapes of Wrath to be the best character ever written. She calls him her literary crush. It wasn’t until college, when prompted to write a Young Adult fiction “first chapter,” that she began to write her own fiction and fell in love with writing. She finally knew what she wanted to do and she is doing her best to make that happen. Melinda is lucky enough to be married to a great guy, Greg. She has three loving sisters (two older, one twin) and great parents. Growing up she was shy and awkward,

meredith and me... awkward middle schoolers, but at least awkward together

meredith and me… awkward middle schoolers, but at least awkward together

but that has surely changed (at least the shy part.) She likes who she has become and what she believes in. She is no longer afraid to speak out for a cause (like boycotting GMOs, supporting local and/or organic, awareness of factory conditions for animals, & saving the BEES, just to name a few.) Melinda is currently building a chicken coop in her backyard, growing a garden she hopes will proved a large portion of her food, and working at a bakery. She has written three complete manuscripts and writes Every. Single. Day. Because being a published author is Plan A, not Plan B. Life is good! Melinda wakes up every day wondering how she got so lucky.

writing, fiction, short story

Lou & Lou… so lucky

That’s me in about 250+ words. Now you know a little bit more about me, Melinda, AKA Lou.

Also- Today was a busy, great day!

flowers, garden, writing

“before”

I worked in the yard with Greg for hours. HOURS. We planted a flower bed (above… will hopefully have an “after” picture in the next few weeks!), shoveled pounds and pounds of compost, pulled weeds, neatly stored away our hoop houses for the garden, placed small logs around the periphery of our vegetable garden AND THEN went to run a 5K with my friend. Every second was a blast.  All the proceeds of this run went to Boston Relief. I am so grateful to have a body that is able to run and work in the yard. I am so thankful to be safe at home tonight.

And how cool is this? My dinner will have part of my garden in it! Spinach and garlic!!!

melinda, writer, young adult fiction

did you know young garlic looks like this?

Hope you all had a good day, too!!

<3  Lou


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Lemon Moon {Part I}

Listen to this.

Remember this.

Read this:

 

LEMON MOON

 

By Melinda Williams

 

 

 

August, 2012

JOHNNY

 

You may have grown up seeing at least one “missing person” poster taped up to a wooden pole in your hometown. Maybe you even saw multiple signs a day if you lived somewhere big like New York City or Chicago. The faces may not have meant much. They were just random faces of people you were likely to never meet, find, or care about. You might have felt a pang of regret for the ones who lost them, the ones who were still around. But if you’re from a tiny town, say, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, chances are you’ve seen maybe one. And although it felt like everyone in town knew one another, you didn’t recognize the face.

I now live in a town where half the people are missing, therefore, you get your fair share of “missing person” posters. I’ve grown accustomed to them. I pass by a picture of my second grade teacher every day on my way to the store, and inside Andy, the old guy who owns the store, has up a picture of his wife. Being a small town most everyone was married or at least had someone they loved. And half of each pair disappeared.

Did you hear me?

I said

Half of each pair disappeared. Poof. Vanished. Before eyes. All alone. Unexpectedly. Gone. Forever.

 

And now only I know why.

 

 June, 2010

 

“I’m never going to get out of here,” Anne told me. She and I were walking up the dirt road and away from school. Summer break was upon us. Next year we’d be seniors and for most kids in our town break would just keep on being reality once high school ended. What I mean is, not very many were bound for college. There was no way Anne’s parents could afford to send her anywhere. My future looked a little brighter, except for the fact that I wouldn’t go anywhere without her.

“Sure you will,” I told her, straightening out my baseball cap and running a few steps to kick a rock at the bend in the road.

“That gets dirt everywhere,” she said softly.

“You always wear sandals,” I said right back. She did. We lived in the middle of the desert and she wore open toed sandals every day. Her feet were always dirty because of it. The dust from the road really did get everywhere.

“At least my toes can be free.” Anne crossed her arms in front of her chest and said, “I’m stuck here forever.”

“Who says? Who says you can’t move anywhere you want when we graduate? You could go be a model or something.” It was true, too. Get Anne into a big city and she’d be spotted right away for her good looks, her tall and thin body.

“Oh yeah? It’s that easy? Who’s gonna pay for the car to get me down the highway? Who’s gonna pay my bus fare?”

“Save up for the next year, I guess.” I was only seventeen, just like her. I didn’t know how a kid went about moving away from home. Anne at least had some advantages. She hadn’t always lived in Truth or Consequences. She was beautiful. Her home life was awful, so she had more drive in her to get away. (I’m the guy who can turn a terrible family situation into something positive. It drives Anne crazy, but I know she secretly loves that about me.) Anne didn’t say anything in response, but bent down to pick a small dandelion growing by the side of the road. She held it and stared at it with her feet a foot apart and her head tilted to the side. Her braided hair had loose strands.

“They say these are weeds. If something so pretty can be a weed, then I guess not everything is as it seems.”

Anne often said things like this. I often didn’t respond. Not knowing what to say about dandelions, I stuffed my hands in my pockets and cleared my dry throat. “I’m cookin’ dinner tonight. Want to come over? Kick off summer with style? I bet my dad would even let us each have a beer.”

Anne looked down at the gravel getting coarser under our feet as we walked. We always walked to her house first and then I’d walk home alone. We did this almost every day of the school year since she moved to town in third grade. Her mouth formed a straight line and a strand of her long hair fell forward past her shoulders. “I don’t think I’m free,” she said.

“Oh. Well, okay.” We walked past the big cottonwood tree we’d climb back before she wore short skirts and I was too afraid to embarrass myself. “What are you doing?”

Anne looked at me. Her words were challenging. “Probably hanging out with Gavin.”

Oh, I thought, right. Gavin. Her new boyfriend or whatever he was to her. For her he was a cool older boy who paid attention to her (as if everybody didn’t already), somebody to kiss and hold hands with. For him, she was… someone that I hoped he lied about, because if the stories from the locker room after gym class were true I wouldn’t be able to look at Anne. I convinced myself it was only rumors and cocky Gavin lying through his teeth. If she was capable of doing what he spoke of so often, I sure as hell wanted it to be with me. Anne and I were meant to be. Best friends since third grade. High school sweethearts who had never really been sweet… just there for one another. I was patient in allowing Anne the time for her love to be realized and blossom the way mine already had. Gavin was the only thing in my way.

“Alright.” I kicked another rock.

“If that’s okay with you,” she added, not hiding her annoyance. I hadn’t done a single thing.

“Of course it is,” I said in that calm way I learned from my dad. Never raised my voice. Never showed a temper, if I even had one. If something bothered me no one would ever know but me.

“Maybe another night,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.

“Right. I cook dinner all the time,” I reminded her.

“Right.” Sometimes, although having known each other for nine years, we sounded like acquaintances. We sounded like we had just met.

“See ya, Johnny,” Anne said as she waved to me and her long tan legs walked her up the dirt driveway.

“Bye,” I said. I watched her unlock her front door. I always made sure she got inside before walking away.

Then I headed home by myself. I took the long way. My parents weren’t actually expecting me to cook that night. I would have done it only if Anne had come over. I walked through an old abandoned field, past an ancient adobe house long ago left vacant, and back to the tree by the road that we used to climb. I looked around to make sure I was alone and I put my hands on the lowest branch. I used to give Anne a boost with my hands and then jump up to grab hold. We’d both grown a lot. Anne, more than the average girl, and me, about average. But at least I was tall enough to reach without hardly raising my arms. And up I went, stepping on the sturdiest branches, passing through the thickest part that I was still skinny enough to squeeze through, and eventually perching myself on a high branch. I left my backpack at the bottom of the tree. I didn’t have a book or anything to write with. All I had was my own thoughts and they were enough.

I wished that day that she had chosen me over him. I’d have still helped her climb the tree. Even if she went ahead of me with her short skirt on, I’d never look too closely or try anything. I just wanted to spend time, maybe hold her hand. Maybe even kiss her. And before anyone goes thinking I’m not a regular teenage guy who wants sex all the time, don’t get me wrong. I had my own magazines stashed under my bed and my favorite page had Anne’s long lost twin on it.

The only problem was I would never have the guts to try anything with her. So in order to feel better about the sex I’d probably never have with Anne, I was content with hoping for something as simple as time spent. All those other things would come later once she realized the whole us being meant to be thing.

 

 

Part II coming soon…..


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I Love Magic

I’ve never written two blogs in one day, but I just finished a book and I HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT!!

It’s called The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

{I’m surprised I could even take time to write this, rather then start the second book, The Magician King.}

I am one of those folks who loves Harry Potter. (I always, always, accidentally type “Harry Pottery” and have to delete the y. Why?) I get lost in the world of magic, usually convince myself at least a few times that magic has to be real, right?, and then stumble back into the real world like everyone else. I’ve read the entire HP series about seven times. Which is why I was a little bit skeptical when Greg told me I had to read The Magicians. You see, Greg has never read Harry Potter. Ever! Can you believe it? He says he will.

Anyway.

Greg read both The Magicians and The Magician King within three weeks. That is rare. He said he loved them, Quentin is a star of a main character, and that I really should read it. I didn’t want to. This one actually had a cool cover, so I wasn’t judging a book by its cover (thank goodness.)

magic, the magicians, hey lou, writer

Highly recommended by Lou

Also- doesn’t the tree in my own backyard kind of resemble the one in the cover?

author, short stories, ya novels, fiction, hey lou

I thought so…

I was, however, judging a book based on a different book. I should never do that, either. I pre-judged The Magicians, thinking it couldn’t live up to Harry Potter(y) expectation and I might as well quit while I’m ahead. Ho, ho, ho. This book is NOTHING like Harry Potter.

Yes, they are magicians. They do not call themselves wizards.

Yes, they go to school. But this is college, complete with cuss words, sexual relations, and gruesome deaths/injuries that we didn’t see until the seventh book of HP.

Yes, the main character is a slightly lanky, kind of depressed boy who can’t find happiness. But he isn’t Harry. Not even close. Quentin has a harder time being a hero, doesn’t always manage it, and nothing seems to end well.

If you were a kid who loved The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, you will also have an extra heart for this book. Quentin grew up reading a series of books about little kids who travel through a grandfather clock and wind up in a magical place called Fillery. Well, Fillery has more up its sleeves than staying tucked away in Quentin’s childhood. That’s all I’ll say about that.

There are so many surprises, so many character returns, so many plot twists, that it was hard to keep up with this book. If I hadn’t read it within four days I would have been lost. The 402 pages encompass approximately 6 years of time. The first half is four years of school. At first I thought it was a bit choppy, a bit sterile. I thought I wouldn’t really care about the characters because I didn’t know them very well and who cares if ____ dies?

Turns out I cared… a lot.

This isn’t a book to take lightly. You have to pay attention, realize the subtle ways Lev Grossman has introduced us to characters who we actually know better than we think, and you have to get ready for some real disappointment.

That’s all I’m going to say. Greg says I have a terrible habit of ruining the ending for people. NEVER AGAIN. Just let me know if you read it.

;)


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I Ran, I Read, I Cried

I had quite the weekend. I would consider myself having had TWO workouts.

The first, was the 5K Color Me Rad run I completed with my older sister, Emily.

reading, writing, melinda williams

at the finish line!

If you haven’t heard of this, or if no color run of any sort has graced your own city or town, it’s kind of weird. People run around for 3.1 miles and there are these stations where you get hosed down, sprinkled, or thrown buckets of paint on your person. People show up wearing white. They leave looking colorful (or like they just have on a green shirt! Emily got the bucket!)

I’m really happy because I didn’t have to stop and walk, which was my big goal. Yayyyy

writing, running, reading, hey lou

I thought this really shows just HOW colorful everything was!

It was super fun!! I highly recommend you find one of these races and participate. Families with little kids were walking the course and the kids loved getting paint on their clothes!

Alright. My other workout was one of the best whole body workouts, definitely including the abs quite a bit. It left me a little sore.

Doesn’t that happen to you, too, after you’ve sobbed your eyes out reading a book?

It totally happened to me.

I read Barbara Kingsolver’s greatest novel, The Poisonwood Bible. Again  AGAIN!  I judged a book by its cover. Why do I keep doing this? This is another book, lent to me by the same person as the last book I so wrongfully judged. It sat on my bookshelf for many days. This cover stared at me.

reading, writing, short stories, young adult

it’s kind of a cool cover, actually

I feel in love with this book and wound up finishing it in two days. I could NOT put it down. I brought it in the car, just in case I turned up early anyplace and I could read for another precious few minutes. I hardly slept. Maybe part of running the 5K and not walking at all was simply my determination to get home and read… ha  just kidding!

If you read this, get ready. You will need a whole box of tissues, or you will simply have to throw whatever sweater you were wearing into the wash.

But you should also get ready to laugh out loud, cringe, pick up some new sayings, and have some preconceived notions thrown out the window. I know I did all of these things.

The family in this book is similar to my own in a few ways:

There are four daughters, two of which are twins

The father is a pastor (mine’s Lutheran, in the book, they’re Baptist)

My grandpa (mom’s dad) grew up in Madagascar with this missionary parents (and wrote a book about it!) 

reading, writing, missionary

I know, so cool, right??!

The family in this book is also very different from my family in a few ways, too.

Our minister dad isn’t totally and awfully abusive, like in the book (writing Bible verses as punishment just doesn’t seem to match up with what they’re actually there for… )

The youngest two in my family are twins, not the middle two

None of us have been to Africa

That’s just to name a few ;)

Yet again I read a book that made me reevaluate my entire life. It gave me a new perspective on my own country, my home and the way I judge people. It seems that is all books have been doing for me lately, which I am thankful for.

When I put the book down, I LITERALLY stood up and was overwhelmed by the size of my living room. It felt humungous… It took many steps for me to get to my kitchen, which just absolutely shocked me. Weird, I know. But you have to understand – for two days I’d been living inside the book, meaning I was living inside a tiny mud hut in a small village in the Congo and I had almost zero resources. Walking across a wood floor in an adobe house with everything in the kitchen I could ever want was suddenly amazing. I made my dinner in a daze. I took out my frozen peas, heated them up on the stove with soy sauce and a little tofu, put it on a bed of arugula and added olive oil. I hadn’t quite considered the technology it took for all of that to end up on my dinner plate.

I felt ashamed of the life I live, thankful for the life I live, wary of the choices people in high places have made all throughout history, yet hopeful. This book did it all.

I was riddled with the smart and witty quotes.

“I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.”

“Sugar, it’s no parade but you’ll get down the street one way or another, so you’d just as well throw your shoulders back and pick up the pace.”

“Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.”

The Poisonwood Bible also made me stray away from my usual and slightly ignorant belief that I should feel sorry for people with less. This book showed the beauty of living with practically nothing. The people in the Congo (at least in the village written about in this book) lived on one primary source of food, a gooey and tasteless substance, but it was simple and kept them alive for hundreds of years. They had homes made of mud, one pair of clothes (if even) and schooling wasn’t a top priority. They were smart in other ways. I am reminded of that famous quote:

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Albert Einstein 

I am now a Kingsolver fan. Next on my list is her book about living a year on only local food (something I wanted to do!) called Animal Vegetable Miracle. Can’t wait!!

Don’t forget how lucky and blessed you are on this fine morning. If you’ve complained about the size of your home or the fact that your car isn’t nice enough, you definitely need to read Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver :)

You’ll wind up a much more content person if you do!

<3


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I Did The Thing You’re Never Supposed to Do

reading, writing, hey lou, short story, young adult

I have to admit it: I did the thing you’re never, ever supposed to do- especially as an avid reader or writer who knows better. And it isn’t the first time I’ve done that, truth be told.

I’ve committed similar crimes. Like the time I broke that sacred rule among all women and excitedly said to a woman I barely know, “Oh my gosh! You’re PREGNANT!!”

And she wasn’t. (I know, I’m still cringing, too. It was awful.)

I’ve done worse things. I’ve learned many lessons on what to say in public (my mom’s rule after a family outing, “Don’t say a word until all the car doors are shut and we’re driving away!”) and when to bite my tongue.

You may not think it’s as big of a deal… this other thing I did, but I do. I’m always glad to be proven wrong, yet I always fall back into the similar pattern. Have you guessed it yet?

I JUDGED A BOOK BY ITS COVER!

That’s right. I do this all the time, despite knowing how wrong covers often are. One solid picture that represents hundreds of written pages? A picture can say a thousand words… it can also misrepresent about 100,000 words!

My latest victim of judgement:

Call The Midwife by Jennifer Worth

This is the cover I sat and stared at, not really wanting to pick it up:

books, writing, reading, short stories Let’s admit it. It looks kind of cheesy. I guess it’s some tv show now, though I’ve never heard of it. My boss at work gave me this book to read and I ignored it for about a week. I was turned off by the three gals riding bicycles and the funny expressions of the two older women in the bottom picture. I didn’t want to know why the nun looked so smug/full of knowledge/kind. Weird of me, right? I just couldn’t really get past it.

Then I read the first page. And I finished the book in about three days.

It was an excellent, fantastic read! A real page turner.

Set it London in the 1950’s, this book depicts the true accounts of Jennifer, young midwife (about my age), and what she saw and learned and dealt with. I had no idea conditions for people were so awful. My perspective on life has completely changed. It’s one of those books… the kind that have you reevaluating what you take for granted every single day. After reading I realized I am LUCKY and BLESSED beyond belief because I have:

A running toilet, in a nice bathroom (many people in large cities in the 1950’s were still using outhouses or communal bathrooms in apartment buildings… one single “toilet” for hundreds of people)

A house for only two people (small one bedroom apartments would be occupied by a family of six or bigger)

A great hope for a healthy pregnancy with luxuries, such as prenatal visits and a clean facility to show up to (the nuns and young midwives traveled around on their bicycles for home deliveries, mostly to small and overcrowded apartments, as mentioned above)

A husband who is very kind and gentle (domestic abuse was prolific and unspoken)

Plenty of sunshine and green vegetables to eat (rickets were common due to lack of vitamin D, being in the big city and surrounded by tall buildings and therefore, shade, and other deficiencies due to poor nutrition)

A car (the nuns and other midwives seriously only had their bikes. I want to challenge myself to ride my bike when I leave the house, but I just haven’t done that yet. When it’s freezing cold and raining, I’m glad I don’t have to go out with that as my only option)

A job that has great hours and smiling faces and doesn’t include the word “factory” (many worked in factories, some of which were so awful that if a family arrived at the “workhouse” they were all separated – like a concentration camp- and rarely left)

That’s just to name a few. This book was filled with gripping stories of childbirth, poverty, laughter, tears and human nature. Some of Jennifer’s preconceived notions were completely turned upside down. The crazy lady who showed up at almost every birth wasn’t just being a pest, she truly cared to know if they were healthy and alive. The girl who had stolen a large amount of cash wasn’t just a horrible thief- she’d been tricked into prostitution and couldn’t find a way to escape. The women who had the dirtiest apartment was depressed and driven to drink because her husband was so abusive.

I know it’s just a book, but these stories are such a great reminder to me to not judge people. To give them the benefit of the doubt (one of my new years resolutions!) and to look kindly on all people, as you never know what they’re going through. Some stories in this book were hilarious, too. Some filled with joy and hope. Those were my favorite parts.

I highly recommend this book! Just don’t pay any attention to the cover.

:)

 

 


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Anything You Want to Be

Recently, I was reminded of the best Halloween I remember growing up. As a rule, I pretty much hate Halloween. I don’t like anything scary. I don’t like to be tricked, I’m not a big candy eater, and the costumes of today are too ridiculous for my taste. However, there was a great year, back when I was about seven. (notice, I have on a sweatshirt… we are both wearing gloves… it was freezing cold in Minnesota. I was a little mad about the sweatshirt, but I still felt lovely!)

short stories, poetry, young adult

cowgirl and Belle :) <3

Meredith was a cowgirl and I was … Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I remember it well. I had the idea in my head, and so Belle I was. I didn’t have a special yellow dress imitating the dress she wears in the movie. Simply feeling beautiful and believing I looked like her was enough. Don’t get me wrong, I think the costumes that are an exact match are cute, too. But I think there’s something special about a kid who smiles, knowing who they are for Halloween, whether or not anyone can guess it.

And believe it or not, I’m going to relate this back to reading a good book.

When I read a great novel, I automatically put myself in a character’s shoes. It’s perhaps WHY I get so wrapped up in books.

Here’s my list of books I could not finish:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Blindness by Jose Saramago

Room by Emma Donoghue

Why? Because I had nightmares. Yep. All three of these books (just to name a few) gave me nightmares… horrible, wake up shaking type nightmares, therefore I couldn’t finish them. I sought out people who had braved it ’til the end and made them tell me the ending. I couldn’t stand the thought of being on the road, afraid for the life of my child… afraid that I would be captured and eaten by cannibals. Going blind is probably my greatest fear, and while reading that book I had a nightmare that Meredith went blind, awful things happened, and I could do nothing to save her. Don’t even get me started on Room. I thought about it night and day. And for these reasons, I think these books are great. They are too good. They were so real, I believed I was there. It got into my head. I became the character in so many ways, and that created a world that I didn’t want to be in.

The same goes for books that I can finish all the way. That list is way longer, thank goodness!!

When I read Grapes of Wrath, I felt as if I were Tom Joad, or at least felt comforted knowing he was by my side through the journey to California. I felt I had lived in Greece and had a very strange upbringing when I read Middlesex. My stomach churned and I seriously doubted the people around me as I sat and read The Bell Jar. I cried at the end of Of Mice and Men, because I felt that I had been taking care of Lenny right alongside George.

As a writer, I hope to always place the reader in the story. A good friend of mine once read the first draft of my first manuscript… she gave it back with critique. She had written on the third page in, “Remember how it felt to read Harry Potter? We know Hogwarts. We’ve been there. Make the planet resonate with me in the same way… I want to be there, not just read about it.” That critique changed my writing. I realized that instead of telling, I had to show. We’ve all probably had a teacher give us that advice, but what does it really mean? It means that instead of saying:

I like the desert because I grew up here. My house is great. I don’t think I ever want to move away.

I could say:

The cactus growing in my backyard is enchanting. I have no doubt in my mind that New Mexico is rightfully named “The Land of Enchantment.” In the spring flowers bloom, which always surprises me. Flowers on a prickly cactus? When I still lived in Minnesota I never would have believed it. There are windows in every room where I live. The view changes daily, because the birds are always different and the sunset is never the same as the night before. So many people I know say they can’t wait to get away. Not me. I could live here forever.

By the way, that last paragraph is entirely true!!

What book did you dive into, almost literally? What character did you relate to so strongly, you felt as if you’d been walking in their shoes? Which authors do this best? I’d love to know!

<3

 


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APPEAL

APPEAL

By Melinda Williams

“They’re going to stop us, too,” Cindy said.

I didn’t want to believe her. But she had been right. The moment was so long ago… so in the past. Yet, I thought of the statement daily. Her words, the ones that really came true. How could I have expected anything else to happen?

It wasn’t too cold or hot. The temperature outside was like the kind a person can’t feel. Body temperature. And yet, each person felt what else was in the air. Unrest. Drought. No movement. The world had gone still and although the air was nice it held within it a danger that did more damage than cold or hot ever had. It wasn’t carrying coolness that would hint of a rushing river nearby. It held no humidity to stick to the skin and cause musty nights on the porch. When I thought of Cindy, she was glowing with sweat from dancing with me. I hadn’t seen her in three years. Continue reading