The Good Life

All right, I’m back.

Life is going suspiciously well, so something must be wrong. Do you know what I mean? When everything seems to come together so perfectly every day that you can’t help but think that you are

a) dreaming
b) dead
c) in a reality television prank show, a coma, or one of those Vanilla Sky type chambers of consciousness

Because what do any of us do to deserve real happiness? Have I done enough to earn these sunny Sunday mornings on the front deck, tomato plants blossoming, puppster barking at the lawn mower below?

I saw my beloved Shirley MacLaine in Seattle last week, and she talked for a long time about how we need to recognize that we are the creators of our own lives. We choose everything that will happen to us, and we design the circumstances around which it will happen.

I guess that makes a little sense. But I generally don’t like to take responsibility for anything unless it’s something terrible, and then I guess self-blame would be a better way of describing it.

But here I am. Sun, tomatoes, lawn mower.

All right, on to business: I read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, which was recommended to me because I’m struggling with writing a novel about several characters in a small town. And I liked it all right, but what I realized is that when I’m reading a book, I really like to get punched in the stomach about two-thirds of the way through. But in Olive Kitteridge, there’s no punch. It’s more like someone’s got a bit of your upper arm flesh between two fingers and they just pinch the whole way through, not enough for you to scream, but enough so that by the end you’re glad to get their hands off you.

Now I’m reading Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. It’s got a nice ribbon bookmark attached and the pages are thin like rice paper. So, she really can’t go wrong.

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