Finding Comfort in Melancholy

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I’ve been reading a lot lately.  The weekend after the Fourth of July, I plowed through three books on Sunday alone.  It was one of those days – and I was sucked into one of those story lines – that I just couldn’t stop.

I think I needed to be wrapped up in melancholy.  Sometimes, when I’m feeling a little down, I find it best to just wallow in it for a while and then pick up my chin and move on.  Without the wallowing though, I find myself returning time and again to the thing that’s dragging me down.

So on that Sunday, I put on sappy Hallmark Channel movies (which get me every single time even though I don’t usually like chick flicks), poured myself some wine (because that’s what you do on a Sunday afternoon when you want to wallow), and pulled out my Kindle (so that I didn’t even have to get off the couch when I was ready for the next book).

I discovered a gem that day, a gem that definitely made me feel better about my life if only because I was reading about someone worse off.  The Girl in the Lighthouse, by Roxane Tepfer Sanford, was haunting.  The reviews on Amazon are very mixed but I am definitely in the camp that enjoyed it.  The scandal was exactly what I needed that afternoon.  The story deals with mental illness, incest, and abuse.  I will admit that (somewhat thankfully) the author did not delve into any of the topics as blatantly so I didn’t find the darkness overwhelming like some readers did, but be warned that the story is not for the faint of heart.

I followed The Girl in the Lighthouse with the second book in the series All That is Beautiful and have to say that I should have stopped after the first.  I don’t know if the author was contracted to write two books and felt she needed to complete that or what.  No matter why it was written, the second book may have tied together some loose ends from the first but left me feeling more unfulfilled than if I had just tied those ends together in my own imagination.  The reader saw the main character – who despite everything you really were rooting for – spiral into an unbelievable mess.  Whether you thought she was a victim or drove her own demise, the story line become entirely unbelievable even in the end when you thought you might finally get your happy ending.  My recommendation is to read the first book and then stop… Let your mind come to its own conclusions and be done with it.

Incidentally, while reading I got sick of the Hallmark Channel movies and put in a cd that I have been listening to on repeat for the last few months and found the perfect soundtrack to the amazing story I was reading.  If you haven’t heard Barnaby Bright – which you probably haven’t since I only happened to discover them myself due to a small concert series in my town – and you like singer songwriter stuff with ridiculously amazing female vocals, I suggest you check them out.  I especially liked how one of my favorite tracks “Old Coats” fit the mood of the story I was reading.  You can check it out on their website – looks like you can even download a few tracks!

After a long day of reading, I truly did feel better.  I picked myself up and went on with my week knowing that by allowing myself to feel the badness I was opening myself up to a tomorrow full of goodness.

And P.S. The Girl with the Lighthouse is still free on Amazon if you have a Kindle.  I do recommend that you check it out – just don’t waste the money on the sequel.

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On Why I Want to Start Writing Again

I haven’t written in such a long time that I feel almost like an impostor for trying again.  It’s been more than a year since I stopped writing publicly regularly.  I say publicly because I didn’t stop writing completely, I just stopped writing to share with the world.

Last summer I discovered just how much of my important thinking and decision making is done through the written word.  I’m so much better at writing it out, mulling it over, and then sharing it for feedback.  As much as people might assume I don’t have a filter, I really do.  I am not a make-quick-decisions-on-the-fly kind of person and writing is by far the best way for me to think through said decisions.

However, when you’re trying to be with someone who doesn’t necessarily understand the need to think ahead of big decisions, and really doesn’t understand the need to overshare their life in order to get feedback about those decisions, blogging might not be the best medium to process your life.  Instead, I started writing much more privately.  Emails, cards and letters to a certain individual to help me think through the good and bad times.

Unfortunately, that writing wasn’t enough to bring us to the same conclusions.  I’m fine and no I don’t really want to talk about it.  If anything, the writing I’ve done in the last year taught me so much about myself that it was probably the best thing for me even if it didn’t bring me to the future I had hoped.

Now that I no longer have someone to write so privately to though, I find myself withdrawing from the world in many of the ways I used to.  When I am down and troubled, I surround myself with my most comfortable things – namely my wine, my books, and my cats.  Things that cannot judge me, hurt my feelings, or disappoint me (for very long at least).

I realized that I tend to blog blog when I am at my low points as a way to drag myself out of that solitude and I hope to do that again now that I once again need a way to reach out to the world and share my thoughts.  I have done a lot of soul searching lately and I feel that I once again have things that I am not afraid to share with any people who are willing to listen.

We’ll see where this journey takes me.  We all know I’ve tried this time and time again and haven’t necessarily stuck with it.

But even if no one is reading, I need to know that I have expressed myself – even if it’s primarily about those three things that never judge.

But then again… those three things shouldn’t surprise you.  You are, afterall, visiting a site called Thirsty, Nerdy Cats.

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My Reflections on JFK

I spent a lot of time in the car today, which meant plenty of radio time.  As today is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and I am a big fan of NPR, I heard three different segments remembering that day.

The first time, I teared up.  Even though I wasn’t alive when JFK died – heck, my mom wasn’t even alive – the thought of all that he had left to do… all the promises that he was unable to keep… all of the maybes, should haves, could haves… simply brought pause to my morning.  Who knows what would have happened but unfulfilled possibilities are one of the biggest tragedies in my opinion.

The second time I heard a remembrance of that day, I cried.  I started thinking about the moments in my life that brought the nation together in total captivation and sadness.  The Columbine shooting – which to me and my friends as middle schoolers felt all too real, all too possible to happen in our own community – and September 11th – where our entire world seemed to stop as everyone watched what we thought was our ideal world crumble.

The third time I heard a broadcast today, this one a replay of the broadcast Walter Cronkite did for the 40th anniversary, I wept.  I am not ashamed to admit I had to pull off the highway or risk running off the road.

I didn’t weep for the nation’s past or my own few collective memories.

I wept for the current generation.

I wept because national tragedies like the one they were describing are far too common to children like my Little Sister.

I remember two moments where the nation stopped, the two mentioned above.  Her generation has already seen so many horrific things that they barely notice when a tragedy of once inconceivable proportions takes place.  Recent incidents like Sandy Hook give all of us pause for a few days, but it doesn’t take long for the entire country to move onto the next thing.  Unimaginable heartbreak is practically the norm.

Listening to the broadcasts today, realizing how devastated the entire country was, I wept because I couldn’t imagine what would bring our entire society to a halt like that again.

I wept because our country is so divided right now, in so many ways, that I truly don’t think anything could bring us to our knees in that same way.

I’m not ashamed to cry.  I’m not afraid to admit that the world we live in saddens me sometimes.  But I’m also vowing to do a better job myself.  To truly take notice, in both the tragedy and the celebration.  To help those around me do the same.  To teach those lessons to the next generation.

And I share this with you – a pretty heavy topic considering that I’ve posted twice in many, many months and the last post was about mayonnaise shaming – because I hope you’ll do that same.

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