Grumpy Owl Tells Bookish Fibs

I am owl shocked… I never expected a bird said to be so wise could ever ululate such horror of an understatement. I don’t just like books. I freaking love worlds made of ink. So, my heart bleeds (and cries foul at the bookish wisdom of owls).

Now that the statement of the grumpy owl has been properly addressed, I shall share a thought (or three) about my summer readings and other bookish bits.

The list I put together for Khaya’s Summer Reading Challenge evolved (and kept on growing because, well… I have no self-control when it comes to the joy that is reading). These are 13 from the bunch:

Behind My Eyes: Poems, by Li-Young Lee
Dirt Road Dreams, by Susie Clevenger
Enigma Tales, by Una McCormack
Erotic Poems, by e. e. cummings
Fever Dream, by Samanta Schweblin (translated from Spanish)
The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek, by M. A. Altman and E. Gross
The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, by Aimee Bender
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World, by Peter Wohlleben
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov (Spanish edition)
Mi negro pasado (My Dark Past), by Laura Esquivel
Spellbook of the Lost and Found, by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Todos mis cuentos (All My Stories), by Ana María Matute
Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Out of the list, I reviewed Susie Clevenger’s Dirt Road Dreams. You can read my short entry and my favorite quote from the book, here. Speaking of quotes, there is one, from The Hidden Life of Trees, which will stay with me for always:

“When the logs in the fireplace crackle merrily, the corpse of a beech or oak is going up in flames… Does that sound over the top? I don’t think so… parallels can definitely be drawn to pigs and pork… We use living things killed for our purposes. Does that make our behavior reprehensible? Not necessarily. After all, we are also part of Nature, and we are made in such a way that we can survive only with the help of organic substances from other species. We share this necessity with all other animals. The real question is whether we help ourselves only to what we need from the forest ecosystem, and-analogous to our treatment of animals-whether we spare the trees unnecessary suffering when we do this.”

There is a handful of books and stories that have made a home inside my bones: One Hundred Years of Solitude, “The Decapitated Chicken”, and “The Circular Ruins” come to mind. This summer, The Hidden Life of Trees has joined the list.


So, my bookish Luvs, what word-worlds have you explored this summer? What bits stuck? Do tell… I’m always on the hunt for a good title (or 13). 😉


Trinkets and Armor, 2: Normal Is a Self-Defeating Trap


If you are visiting from Poets United or Kerry’s 55-er, and wish to delight only in the poetry, just scroll down to the end of the post, to read “Be Weird”.


When my brain began brewing this project, the first name that came to mind was “Reclaiming My All”. I discussed the title with friends, and we agreed it was powerful and empowering. But a few days before publishing the first prompt, I changed my mind. I am still quite fond of the phrase. I mean, it is a line from a favorite poem by a sexy, intelligent and unbelievably modest writer I know well.

But… since what I wanted was a place where we could get better at loving and nurturing and understanding who we are now, I felt (and feel) that a title that might even imply that we’re trying to hold on to the past could be dangerous.

Flexibility is a great pal to have on speed dial. And for those of us with bodies and/or minds slightly mangled (by trauma, illness, vintage-ness…), flexibility should be a best friend who never goes away. Trying to reclaim what we once had (with the tools we have now) is a dream that can promptly turn nightmare.

I said this much, perhaps in much harsher words *cough, cough*, to a friend who told me, “I hate this f*cking body. All I want is a normal life.” My explosive friend and I live with similar digestive system conditions. And if you know anything about Crohn’s Disease and other IBD, then it’s very likely that you already understand that “normal” is something that happens to somebody else.

When life changes, we must change our living. In the past, I was as rigid about my routine as Minerva McGonagall is severe about her bun. But life has been teaching me that to even have a chance in this battle called living, I must turn to Severus Snape: battling chronic illnesses “is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating…” So, guess what, my Wicked Luvs? Our behaviors and approaches must mutate too.

I fight my own many-headed monster by never forgetting that my “normal” is strange, and my strange is forever changing its face. I welcome all the faces: when my Piano Man and I must cancel a date because my body decides to house a fever that day, we change our going-out date for a naked-stay-at-home-and-veg date (Yum!); when I’m in so much pain that I can barely open my eyes, I close them and plot tales about how energy is energy is energy… until I can turn the life-sucking energy of the pain into strength-giving ink; when the pain is so bad that even the eye-closing-and-plotting trick is too much, I call a soul I love and who loves me back, and say, “I’m about to start screaming, so tell me filthy jokes. Or, let’s plot completely unrealistic strategies to get Malfoy and the Orange Infection out of Hogwarts.” Unrealistic plotting is rather therapeutic.

So, there you have it. That is how I stay afloat in normality’s seemingly insane ocean. How do you do it, my Wicked Luvs? How do you hold on to your Self when life continues changing the rules of the game without warning?


Here is my poetic contribution for this week’s prompt:

“Be Weird”

Normal is a trap—
be weird, unstuck
your spirit, tWiSt and stretch…
until you can live and love
without screaming
into deaf hands.

Of course, you can
break, I did
(and the self-stitching is never-ending…).

just love
all my pieces—
faulty flesh, weary soul…

Normal is a breakable cage

…write your Self free…


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