Friday, April 02, 2010

Beware, a book review and rant by Bea

I had an interesting first time visit to the afternoon book club meeting, at the local library. I saw some of the same people I have seen in the Mystery book club, that meets once a month in the morning. Only one gentleman in the group and a quiet one at that. The book was Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg.

In the book, the main character's husband dies of a stroke while she is washing the dishes. Before turning around she complains to him about the sound of his coffee cup breaking and how it was a new mug. Of course, her husband is dead on the floor and the coffee cup broken, next to him.

She's the kind of woman that is what I call "high maintenance" in my life. She's never had to learn how to take care of herself or her home, that was her husbands job and now she's wearing down her daughter and friends with her constant cries for help to do this or that.
I'm sure we all know somebody like that. They can be exhausting.

The book was well written but difficult for me to read, at times, because the main character reminded me so much of my mother. There is one part, in the book, where the daughter and mother are out to lunch and the mother, a writer, feels she has to get the life story of their waiter. The daughter tells her mother, "You don't have to make everybody like you."
I mentioned, in the book group, that this was a hard passage to read because it was so true, for me. I couldn't go anywhere with my mother without her trying to make friends with the staff or perfect strangers.
Some of the ladies of the group defended the main character saying that since she was a writer she felt compelled to "find" stories or gather information.
My answer to that is the same thing I eventually told my mother.
If you are out with ME then ME is the only thing I want you interested in. And, I'll be the same.
Look ME in the eyes and ask me how and what I have been doing. I'll be looking in your eyes, listening to what YOU have to say.
I bring this up because of my very BIG peeve, the cell phone. Even during our book club meeting, two women had to go out of the room because their cell phone went off. They had to carry on a conversation with somebody, at that moment, because it couldn't wait?
Give me a break. How did we ever manage to exist before cell phones? Did worlds fall apart because somebody couldn't get hold of us IMMEDIATELY? I seriously doubt it.
The women and one gentleman, in this group are all retired. This isn't a child calling because they have been locked out of the house. Although, I was a key kid and I managed fine without calling my mother.
The number of people that I see talking on their phones during LUNCH with their friends, or DINNER with their partners is amazing. It used to be a novelty but now? It saddens me.
And, it's so RUDE.
While I was walking into the library a man moved forward past me to open the library door for me. I stopped, looked him in the eye and said, "Thank you." He smiled and said,"There are still a few of us left."
I told him that was a good thing because the young still needed role models.
I hold doors for people, men, women, children because it's polite.
I turn off my cell phone when I meet somebody for lunch or a meeting. I have voice mail, I can catch up later.
I am beginning to think that our attachment to our cell phones and the social network is not a healthy thing. I know it's a social network thing.
My 27 year old daughter carries her cell phone, in her hand as if it's permanently attached.
I've seen her text messages while she feeds her child. She says that she can do both perfectly well and she can. BUT, and you knew there was going to be a but she isn't giving 100% to her child. She's feeding her, smiling but not totally engaged with her. You can't be if you are doing two things at once.
And, I'm sure somebody will point out that she doesn't have to be fully engaged, the child is happy and getting fed. The child doesn't know anything else. But, I would say, from where I am, in life, that that MOMENT IN TIME is precious. It's very, very short as those of us who have passed through it know. Soon, that child will be feeding herself. Soaking up memories of time spent together TOTALLY ENGAGED is important. Whether it's a child, your partner, your friend, your parents. I can't put in words why but getting eye contact, looking into another loved ones eyes and LISTENING to them, interacting with them is so important. It's how we connect to each other. That cell phone is just a tool but it can never replace eye to eye, soul to soul contact.
The heroine of the book does learn how to take care of herself. She learns how to let go of her daughter and making demands on her friends. The people in her life surprise her and she in turn surprises them. It made me grit my teeth at times, laugh, shake my head in wonder but in the end I smiled and was glad I took the time to read it.

:)Bea Create because it makes your soul dance with joy.


  1. I agree totally. I also hate it when I call someone and they put you on hold to take another call, over and over again. I do agree that people need to pay attention to each other more. My best friend really listens to me and looks in my eyes when I talk to her. She always ask me about how things are in my life and she is really interested in knowing about them. I do the same for her. I can't say that about my own sister though.

  2. good post Bea!! Maybe just maybe, the person who needs to learn from your words is reading :)

  3. Yvonne, you are luck to have such a good friend. :)Bea

  4. Kris, you can only hope. But, I'm not holding my breath. :)Bea

  5. Boy I am on your page. My cell phone only come on for an emergency. I used to have it on all the time and then discovered how enslaving it was!

  6. Yup, Dotti, it's easy to keep it on and "feel important" that you are available for everybody. Then one day some of us wake up and realize that we don't want to be so easy. lol :)Bea

  7. Oh I am with you there Bea. My cell phone is ancient and that's fine by me. It doesn't take photos or make the tea or connect to the internet. As you so rightly say, what did these people do before they have one? People would wait, of course. So make them wait!

    On my daughter's recent visit, we threatened to confiscate her mobile phone, but then it's her camera too, so we couldn't. She wasn't as bad this time as last time thankfully, but why can't people just say, 'I'll be available at 5 or whenever.' Grump grump grump!

    Eye contact is so important and listening, a real skill. So many people ask a question then don't listen to the answer. It drives me crazy!

  8. Great post, Bea!
    It is best to be totally in the are so right...especially with a baby :)

    I read Elizabeth Berg, when I was younger...maybe I should try her again.
    I wonder what the gentleman thought of the book. You didn't say, but, maybe he didn't say.

    Cell phones, blech. The only time I need mine is for a text from Mia to tell me what time ballet is over.

    Love to you xox

    PS: I am watching the rabbit hole project, you girls are FAB!

  9. Not only do I not think that I need to answer my cell every time it rings, I also don't always answer my home phone. We have an answering machine and can hear the message and run to get it if it is an emergency. Some people get offended that we "screen" our calls. We aren't really screening them, we just aren't answering them. My youngest has learned the technique, too. I suppose to some it is strange that the 3 of us will sit and listen to the phone ring and not one of us makes a move to answer it. But to us, it is one of the last modicums of control we have in this technologically invasive world!

  10. Gina, people are so funny about their cell phones. If you mention to them to put them away or not to answer them they look so offended.
    I have to say the ones that talk on them while driving when I'm in the car make me very, very nervous. :)Bea

  11. Lisa, you know the only thing he said is that the book could have been written about a man too instead of a woman. I have my doubts about that but I thought it was interesting that he thought that men could be helpless after their wives die, too. :)Bea

  12. Oh, Melissa, once I am down in my comfy chair with the dog and the two cats draped on my lap and chest I don't get up for the phone either. The machine gets it and I call back the next day. :)Bea

  13. I'm a texter. Avid. With my kids. Sisters. My friends. Hubby. co-workers. I love the pop-up of messages. The short shared message of the moment. It's like finding a surprise note in your pocket. I also love conversations and eye contact. It's all just different ways to communicate - like being multi-lingual. I'm also into total engagement in the moment with the people I'm with. And yes - I do turn it all off, sometimes. :-)

  14. Hey Bea!~
    Its been a while! Oh gosh do I know high maintenance people like that. And it is hard to read a book where the main character just grates on you.
    I also have a big pet peeve about the phone/texting. I dont text, have no desire to learn. I HATE when Im out with friends and they're typing in their lap and going "hmm, oh," while carrying on a conversation with someone else. It sometimes feels like "Im the one who showed up! i get first dibs!" lol....

    but dont get me started ;)

    hope all is well with you!~

  15. Renee, if only others could be like you. I think, my friend you have learned restraint and what is important in life. The younger? Well, they will learn. lol :)Bea

  16. HEATHER! So good to hear from you.
    Send me your blog info again, please. When I switched to a domain name I lost all my blogs. I'm still getting my favorite ones back and YOU are one of my favorites. I have a ton of Tasha Tuesdays to catch up on. lol :)Bea

  17. Great post, Bea! And let's not forget "call waiting!" LOL!

  18. Beautifully written Bea! I was shaking my head with every word in agreement. I actually turned off my land line this year. Realizing every one I care about calls on my cell. It was a relief not to have to deal with people calling me at weird times. I also turn my cell off or leave it in a drawer till I want to use it. I don't twitter or anything like that. It just is a time eater. I do not drive using a cell and usually leave it in the car when I go places. I am definitely a living in the moment kind of gal.

  19. I hate when people take calls while in my company - it's old fashioned rudeness. Don't their phones have an off button?

    It really says, this is more important than you are. It's no different than having your TV on while receiving company.

    People think they're so important. Truly powerful people have one thing in common - when you meet them, even for 2 minutes, they make you feel like you're the only person in the world - their focus, even momentarily, is on you. It's called graciousness.