Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday ramblings

No one has ever accused me of thinking in a straight line. My side of a conversation tends to cover a lot of territory but I try to tie all the loose ends together by the time I’'m finished. So I thought I might have a “Tuesday ramblings” post each week. If it doesn’t work out, forget I ever mentioned it. It will be our little secret. But since today is Tuesday, here goes:

Our oldest son has been out of town on business, so we met our daughter-in-law for lunch on Sunday at Ruby Tuesday -- that’s a restaurant -- and then we took our grandchildren Matthew (almost 12) and Ansley (just turned 8) home with us for a couple of days. We returned them to their mother safe and sound late yesterday afternoon, but not before playing a lot of games -- Mexican Train Dominoes, Skip-Bo, Scrabble (twice), even Chess (with Matthew while Ansley helped Nana make a wonderful new dessert called Death By Cream Cheese) -- and when we weren’t playing games we were laughing at Jethro’s antics and giving him doggie treats or going to Canton for shakes at Arby’s. We also squeezed in a drive to our other son’s house because he and his family are out of town also and asked us to feed Sharpie, their black Lab. On Monday morning we spent an hour and a half at the pool with Matthew and Ansley before the day turned into a scorching, sultry beast to be avoided at all costs. All in all, it was two days of making happy memories, for them and for us.

On a typical Monday morning, one of the first things I do after signing on to the computer is read The Writer’s Almanac, a whole week’s worth, Monday through Sunday, all at one sitting. Don't ask me why; it’s just something I do. You can do it too by typing writersalmanac dot publicradio dot org or if you don’t want to tire yourself typing in all those letters you can click on it over there in the sideband. The Writer’s Almanac might not be your cup of tea, but I enjoy it immensely and usually learn a few new things.

With Matthew and Ansley here this week, I didn’t get my weekly dose of The Writer’'s Almanac until today. One of the things I learned is that today is the birthday of author Tom Robbins, and clicking on his name took me to an extended interview with him and a photograph of him. His shock of red hair makes him look a lot like actor Timothy Busfield, and if you don’t know who Timothy Busfield is you never watched thirtysomethings or The West Wing or Field of Dreams. Or if you were watching, you weren’t paying attention. Tom Robbins is the guy who whote Jitterbug Perfume and Still-Life With Woodpecker and Even Cowgirls Get The Blues and Half Asleep In Frog’s Pajamas and Another Roadside Attraction and Villa Incognito and Skinny Legs And All and a bunch of other stuff besides. I have read only two of his books, and I enjoyed one and didn’t enjoy the other. So the jury, in this corner at least, is still out. I’m not really recommending him. But in the interview he said two things that struck me and I want to pass them along to you.

Here’s the first statement: “My view of the world is not that different from Kafka’s, really. The difference is that Kafka let it make him miserable and I refuse. Life is too short. My personal motto has always been: Joy in spite of everything. Not just mindless joy, but joy in spite of everything. Recognizing the inequities and the suffering and the corruption and all that but refusing to let it rain on my parade. And I advocate this to other people.”

That part about “joy in spite of everything” really resonated with me. It’s so easy to get depressed and down in the mouth and Lord knows there are plenty of reasons not to feel “up” all the time, but I think Tom Robbins is on to something important. It might even be Scriptural (think Philippians 4:4). Think about it: JOY IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING.

And here's the second statement: “At the end of every writing day I feel like I’ve been wrestling in radioactive quicksand with Xena the Warrior Princess and her five fat uncles.”

As a fledgling blogger, I know that feeling. Someone asked Flannery O’Connor one time how writing short stories differed from writing a novel. She replied that it was like coming out of a deep, dark forest only to be set upon by a pack of wolves. Tom Robbins. Flannery O’Connor. Writers. My kind of people. They understand.


  1. I very much like the idea of "joy in spite of everything."

    Ramble away, RWP!

  2. Do you know this O'Connor quotation:

    "People are always complaining that the modern novelist has no hope and that the picture he paints of the world is unbearable. The only answer to this is that people without hope do not write novels. Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I'm always highly irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it's very shocking to the system. If the novelist is not sustained by a hope of money, then he must be sustained by a hope of salvation, or he simply won't survive the ordeal."

  3. Thanks to both of you, Pat and Ruth, for commenting on the first edition of my Tuesday ramblings.

    Pat, "Joy in spite of everything" just about says it all regarding the Christian life, I think. Not that living one is easy. But "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."

    Ruth, I do know the O'Connor quotation. It's from either The Habit of Being (her letters) or Mystery and Manners (her essays and speeches). So far only half of my hair has fallen out and only half of my teeth have decayed. You?

  4. I enjoyed your journey of ramblings, or rambling journey. It made me think of those Family Circus comics showing the dotted line path the kids have followed all day in their wanderings about the neighborhood.

    And, yes, thank you for the reminder about "joy in spite of everything"!