Tuesday, January 29, 2013

5 stars - 2012

I'm not going to write an end-of-year wrap up for 2012 like I've done the previous two years. Instead, I'm going to write about the books I loved this last year (obviously, I'm a bit behind in publishing this post).
 
I rate the books I read on a 5-point scale, with a 5 being the best. I assign a rating based on my gut feeling immediately after finishing a book. I've been doing this for a while, and generally speaking, when I close the book a number comes into my mind. I rarely give it more thought, preferring instead to trust my instincts to rate each book properly. For the most part, I don't rate non-fiction works, since I read these more for information than to be entertained.
 
In 2012, 9 books out of the 48 I read were rated a 5. Here's a list, in chronological order, along with a few brief thoughts on each:
 
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - I try to read two classic works each year, and I was very glad this was one of my selections for 2012.
 
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie - I've read this book several times since high school, and I never get tired of it. It's an exceptionally well-done example of a locked-room mystery.
 
Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos - The most recent release by my favorite emerging author. When I mention her name to my girlfriends, they invariably say they've never heard of her, and I always tell them to drop whatever they're reading to read her debut, Love Walked In. I'm not normally a fan of chick-lit, but de los Santos does the genre proud.

The Shining by Stephen King - I tried to read this in 2009, and it creeped me out so much that I couldn't get through it. I managed to finish it in 2012, but it's a very scary, and very good, book. There's a reason King is the master of horror.
 
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - I've been talking about this book since I read it in June. The reviews have been very mixed, but I loved it. The characters are among the most unlikeable I've ever encountered, yet I had to find out how their story was going to end. With an impressive twist at the end, it's apparent that Gillian Flynn is close to perfecting her craft.
 
Where We Belong by Emily Giffin - I don't remember this book too clearly, but I do know that I liked the ending. It felt like real life, and I like books that are true that way.
 
I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle - This was a Kindle Daily Deal, and something told me to snag it while it was cheap. After reading it, I would've happily paid full price.
 
Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman - A friend on the Kindle forum highly recommended this book, and even though it's not my usual genre, something about it intrigued me. I wound up loving the book; it's nice to encounter a good, different story sometimes.
 
Recalculating (short story) by Jennifer Weiner - I haven't read anything else by Jennifer Weiner, but this story seemed to be a departure from her usual genre, and I was curious. I'm glad I picked it up; it's a good story with a cute ending. Definitely worth reading.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Matthew 6:34

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."  - Matthew 6:34, English Standard Version

I believe that a Higher Power watches over us, and that what is meant to be, will be. And yet I am a professional-caliber worrier. I worry about big things, and little things, and all the things in between that could potentially become big things to worry about. Sigh...it's a sickness. I've always been this way; I get it from my mom, who is a world-class worrier.

When I get worked up, I try to remind myself of the verse listed above. It's so true. Tomorrow will be here tomorrow, and it will bring along its own share of worry. And I'll have plenty of time to worry about it then.

My worries right now are relatively simple: Will J. finally have a good math professor this semester? Will we really have the money to take the trip we're planning for the end of March? Is this sore tooth going to turn into a major issue? Will our car continue to run well for the foreseeable future? Looking at this list, I realize that all these things are really out of my control. What will be, will be, and I (we) will deal with whatever comes.

No point in borrowing trouble, especially when there's so much trouble to be had in this life.

I am humbled when I compare my worries to current events in the lives of my friends. One just lost a pregnancy. One is newly pregnant (and over the moon), but with a husband who is lacking in the enthusiasm department (and other departments, if I'm being honest). One is taking charge of her grandmother's medical care, as her grandma has just been diagnosed with leukemia.

I guess, if I feel the need to worry, I can worry for them.

Then again...no.

"Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Biggest Regret

J. and I celebrated four years together this past weekend. It feels good to be starting another year together; we've come so far in the last four years, and it's nice to look forward to all the things we want to do and accomplish, both individually and as a couple. If all goes according to plan, in 2013 J. will finish his associates degree and we'll take our first trip together. I hope - and am determined - that 2013 will be a good year for us.

Milestones always make me reflect on my past, though. I try not to have regrets, believing that they're basically useless - the point is to make better choices in the future. But we all have a few things that eat at us: things we wish we'd done or said, or said or done differently. One can't get through life without a few of those. My biggest regret still gnaws at me sometimes, and that's what I've been contemplating the past few days.

I wasn't faithful to R. when we were married.

Phew, that is *hard* to say out loud! I've only told a select few people about this until now; even R. doesn't know (as far as I know). I'm deeply ashamed of my poor choices, and I fully believe that my marriage fell apart because of the secret I was keeping. It was karma. Granted, I think the marriage had a short sell-by date anyway, but my outside relationship didn't help. Now, though, I think I *need* to talk about it. I need to own this mistake. I need to publicly acknowledge that I committed one of the biggest betrayals a person can commit, and take whatever flak comes from that.

Looking back, the most important question we can ask ourselves is, "Why?" If we don't want to repeat our mistakes, we have to understand why we made them in the first place. The easy answer is to say that something was lacking in my marriage, that I felt unfulfilled in some way...and that's probably true, to an extent. But the bottom line is that I allowed myself to be tempted. I put myself in a position that a married person should never allow themselves to be, and my willpower was no match for that slippery slope.

I'll probably always feel guilt for my actions. I know I can't change what I did, and that there's no point in beating myself up over it. But guilt can be a good thing. At least I know it will keep me from making the same mistake ever again.