I had a book review all ready to post today. But something important came up, so the review will have to wait. I’ll post it on Sunday, so stay tuned (It’s on Ready Player One, which is pure geeky goodness)!
As I’m sure you’ve figured out, I spend a lot of time working on this blog. Reading the books and writing the content have basically become like my job. Which begs the question: WHY? Why don’t I still practice law? Let’s just put it out there: blogging isn’t nearly as lucrative as lawyering.
Well, here’s the long and short of it: sometimes, your life changes abruptly and drastically. And it makes you reevaluate a lot of things.
For me, that was at the end of 2012, when I got sick. Really sick. Aside from my husband and a couple close friends and family members, people didn’t know how sick I was (or for how long). I didn’t want anyone to worry (and for those of you who didn’t know that I was sick, I will tell you that what I had was an unusually severe, unusually prolonged drug reaction. I’m not quite 100% yet, but I’m close. So no need to worry now). And, if I’m being honest, I didn’t want to appear weak.
At first, I couldn’t work because I felt so terrible (I couldn’t drive or eat or sleep or do anything, really). The first month or so was miserable. I would walk through the grocery store and look at people and just be overcome with jealousy, because I knew they all felt normal. They weren’t even thinking about their health. They didn’t know what it felt like to want to sit down in the middle of the aisle to catch their breath and maybe just cry for a few minutes.
I missed a lot of work, and when I went back, my boss and I went right into our biggest jury trial of the year. I was working fourteen-hour days (thank goodness I had a judge who knew from my absences at motions hearings that I had been ill and was incredibly understanding and thoughtful). And I would have worked more if I hadn’t felt so bad. It was stressful and draining.
And then my husband got a job offer in Atlanta, and we decided to relocate. It was the perfect excuse for me to take some time off of work and focus on getting healthy. So, I decided not to look for a job immediately.
Let me tell you: you don’t realize how much you talk (and think) about work until that’s no longer part of your narrative. When you are somewhat defined by your work and you stop working abruptly, it’s a bit of a shock to the system. People kept asking me, “What do you do all day long?” in a patronizing tone. Or maybe I just heard it as patronizing. Regardless, I got really defensive.
I started to question myself. Was I doing the right thing? Should I go back to work? But after thinking about it and talking ad nauseum about it with my husband, I realized that I just wasn’t ready to go back to work.
I also realized that if I wasn’t going to be working, I needed an outlet—something to keep my brain from turning into mush. I was trying to figure out what that outlet would be when someone told me she had read a book I had recommended (Rules of Civility by Amor Towles) with her book club, and they had all loved it. And she was looking for another recommendation. So, I decided to blog about all the books I read. And that’s how I Know What You Should Read was born.
The blog is still very young, but the feedback I’ve gotten has been incredible. I’ve gotten comments and messages from lots of “book people” from all over the world—authors, librarians, fellow reviewers—that has been positive and generous.
And then there’s this:
This is a screenshot from my blog’s stats page. The stats page lets me to see how many people have visited. And I can see where they’re from (Fret not; I can’t see you or when you were here specifically. The information is pretty generic–this list is about as Big Brother as it gets). I’ve had visitors from all over–United Arab Emirates, Finland, Madagascar. . . it’s pretty cool that people in Malaysia, Serbia, and France read my blog today.
All of that is great. And incredibly motivating. But this is even better . . .
Last week, my stepsister and I were talking, and she randomly asked about an old friend of mine. Had we spoken? “Nope.” I replied. “We still don’t talk. I send her a Christmas card every year. But that’s it.” My stepsister gave me a sad face, and I just nodded. “Yep,” I said. “It sucks.”
The friend we were talking about is brilliant and goofy, the very best combination. We were friends years ago. We spent a ridiculously rowdy New Year’s Eve in New Orleans. We won a flip-cup tournament in Virginia. We were there for each other through a lot of tough times. We supported each other when we were both far from home and facing a huge challenge.
And then, many years ago, we had a major falling out. We both got really hurt. And we are both very stubborn. We haven’t spoken since.
We’ve missed a lot in each other’s lives. We weren’t there for each other’s weddings. I don’t know if she has kids, where she’s working, or what she’s been up to at all. It’s been a long time.
But, yesterday, I was checking the email account that is connected to this blog, and I noticed a message that was sent from the Contact Me page.
Somehow, she found the blog. I’m not sure how; we don’t have any mutual friends anymore. We’re not even friends on Facebook. But that’s not important.
What is important is that she wrote. She told me that she had loved reading the blog (she’s a book lover, too—whenever I finished a great book, I would loan it to her to read next). She said some other stuff, but I will keep that between us. Suffice it to say: it made my day.
So . . . that’s it. That’s the important thing that happened that preempted today’s review.
To my friend, I say: Thank you for reading the blog. And reaching out. I missed you.
To the rest of you, I say: Just in case you needed it, I offer this example as more proof that books are magical.
Sometimes your life gets turned completely upside-down. And things are really scary and shitty. So you decide to make some changes. And sometimes you question whether the changes you’re making are the right ones. But, then, if you’re really lucky, little things happen to help you see that you’re on the right track.