Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

My Christmas with Andy Weir and the Martian


A book review might seem like a weird topic for a Christmas post but I promise it will tie in with the spirit of the day by the time you get to the end of this essay.

Back in 2011 Andy Weir wrote a debut novel titled The Martian that ended up becoming a major movie starring Matt Damon as a dorky botanist/astronaut that gets accidentally left behind on a mission in the year 2035. Here’s the official movie synopsis: “When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney, presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.”

I don’t usually read science fiction but the book has stuck with me because not only does it have a fresh plot---well, not really, it’s a classic man-against-nature plot only on steroids---but it’s a nail biter that has an interesting back story of how Andy broke into the publishing world. He’d written other books before this one but couldn’t get a publisher interested so he tried another approach with The Martian. He self-published the story one chapter at a time on Amazon for ninety-nine cents each and sold 35,000 copies in three months which drew the attention of the publishing world. Mr. Weir ended up selling the rights to Crown for $100,000 and both the hardcover and the paperback editions made the New York Times Best Seller List. 

You’ve really got to admire people who believe in themselves and their writing (or whatever their chosen goal) to stick to it and be rewarded for their effort. The amount of research this guy did for this book is super impressive and the character he created was like a quirky metaphor for human endurance and the idea that you never give up even when you’re up against overwhelming challenges. Despite the fact that all the space science stuff that was way over my head, I truly enjoyed both the book and the movie and it’s become a wintertime ritual for me to reread the book. I’ve never reviewed it in my blog before now but three years ago I did briefly mention it when I wrote: “I kept thinking if an astronaut can spend over a year all by himself on Mars, with all the problems that came up, I could stand one more day of not having any human contact in a string of solitary days when I was snowed in and marathon reading. Aside from that the book had many funny moments and it blew my mind on how really, really smart astronauts and the people at NASA are.”

I should have named this blog post The Quote Laden Post because I’m going to end it by quoting the last paragraph of the book, spoken by the main character when he got back home to earth, after getting help from every space program around the globe---the whole world pulling together for one do-good cause. Somehow the quote seems fitting to use it as my Christmas greeting this year. In our world so full of division and discourse the author's message is hopeful and upbeat and I believe his conclusion is absolutely true. Andy wrote these words for his main character to say:

 “The cost for my survival must have been hundreds of millions of dollars. All to save one dorky botanist. Why bother? Well, okay. I know the answer to that. Part of it might be what I represent: progress, science, and the interplanetary future we've dreamed of for centuries. But really, they did it because every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it's true. If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it's found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don't care, but they're massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side. Pretty cool, eh?"

Merry Christmas, everyone! ©


“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere.
Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
― Andy Weir, The Martian

38 comments:

  1. I loved the book because it celebrates nerds/geeks and problem solving. I'm afraid I fell asleep watching the movie when it got to all the excitement of rescuing him. :D

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    1. I liked the book better than the movie. Falling asleep in a movie isn't always a statement about the movie as much as it is a statement about how tired you were.

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  2. Wishing you the best on this Christmas morning!

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    1. Thanks! Enjoy your day too.

      Someone anonymously left a box of chocolate at my door yesterday while I was out with just 'Merry Christmas' written on. After making sure the cellophane hasn't been tampered with I've enjoying the mystery of "who done it."

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    2. See, that's proof of people's goodness! I loathe Christmas because of the commercialization of it, but I love the lights and the music. Neither am I religious, but Jesus was an amazing and admirable human being, so it saddens me that the true meaning of Christmas gets so lost in the hubbub.

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    3. Not only has Christmas been commercialized it's been politicized as well which is really sad. And one of my favorite traditions---sending and getting cards---is all but died. Every year I get half of what I got the year before.

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    4. We are getting less and less cards, too. I guess it's an old fashioned custom that is fading away like letter writing. Sad...

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  3. I loved the movie and really admire the author's unique way of reaching readers.
    That paragraph really does remind us that we are mostly good people who care about others. Really perfect message for today and all days.

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    1. Glad you agree with the message being a good one for this Christmas. I've about overdosed on holiday movie between Hallmark and LifeTime both running them this year.

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  4. Merry Christmas to you and Levi, Miss Jean!

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    1. Thank you Molly and Molly's mom. Levi has already had a great time barking at the huge dog behind us who escaped his electric fence to come over and mark Levi's territory.

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  5. MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and Levi! I loved that movie but have NOT read the book. Enjoy the mystery chocolate! Another friend received an anonymous gift. How fun!

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    1. So far I'm having a good Christmas alone. Not only do I have a mystery that I'm enjoying, I'm doing some online shopping to buy myself a few Christmas presents for myself. And I'm getting far more comments today on my blog than I expected. Hope your day is going well.

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  6. I have a little story that doesn’t have anything to do with the subject of your post but I thought you might find it interesting because I did!
    My husband and I have been in England and today we had Christmas lunch at a charity for older people. My husband volunteers. There was entertainment. One of the songs was the Hokey Cokey. After all these years of being in England and this is a revelation to me. I’ve just googled the difference between Hokey Cokey and Hokey Pokey and it is a difference of name in the two countries and the dance is different in some ways. Is it really possible that all the years that I lived in England I never heard that song. I have known that Ring a Ring a Rosies is different. It is also possible that the version that I know is regional. The third line in the British version is a tissue a tissue. I have always known it as ashes ashes.
    I hope you don’t mind my unrelated thoughts!
    Merry Christmas
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I don't mind at all. I know what it feels like to learn something and want to share it with someone else who likes quirky stories like this. Listening to folk music you appreciate regional difference, how music and stories travel and get changed. With the cyberspace that's going to happen less and less often in the future, don't you think.

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  7. Merry Christmas. I enjoyed the movie and will need to read the book. Love it when we celebrate the nerds.

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    1. I think the book had more humor in it that they movie, too.

      I had a good day, I hope you did too.

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  8. I did enjoy the movie, and now will look for the book at the library! Thanks Jean - and Merry Christmas to you! I also spent Christmas Day with my nose in a book (well, after a 2 hour hike on the local trail) - The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Finished it this morning. I enjoyed it.

    Deb

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    1. Isn't it funny how sometimes we like the book better than the movie and sometimes it's the other way around. I just added The Testaments to my Wish List at Amazon. Must be good if you are reading it in two days.

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    2. I'm a super fast reader, but yes I loved it. I don't know if it was because I've been watching the Handmaid's Tale but I enjoyed The Testaments more than when I first read The Handmaid's Tale many years ago. The Testaments almost didn't sound like Margaret Atwood at all, though - from what I remember of her books.

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    3. Interesting about it almost not sounding like Atwood.

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  9. Merry Christmas! I love this post, and I also love that you got Mystery Chocolates.

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    1. I still haven't figured the mystery out. I put a 'thank you' on Facebook hoping one of my friends would reveal that they did it. No luck.

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  10. I saw and liked the movie very much. And I think Christmas with a book sounds like a fine day to me! I'm still recovering from toddlers.

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    1. A toddler hang-over. LOL That's what my brother has today, no doubt, with more than a dozen toddlers running around the family party.

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  11. I enjoyed that movie so much but have not read the book. I will look for it.
    I have spent two days digging out from a heavy snowfall. Working off a few calories, I hope.
    I am glad Christmas is over for another year.

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    1. I hope we don't get that storm but I think it's coming our way. Dohn't work too hard on the snow.

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  12. I loved that movie but haven't read the book. And I love that you got mystery chocolates! I am at the point where I need to eat something besides sugar. LOL. But dang, once I start it's hard to stop. And there is still quite a bit left. Hate to waste it! :-)

    We are in a silent house after a week of insane action and chaos. A 6yo and a 3yo who are up every day at 6AM and ready to roll. We're not used to this anymore and, while we love them, we're happy they're all on their way home. As I'm sure they are. Fun times and now back to our peaceful life.

    Cheers!

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    1. I still haven't found out who left the chocolates but they are almost gone. I need to get all the sugar out of the house before the new year when I start my annual diet. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

      Glad you enjoying the peace.

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  13. I suppose the highlight of my Christmas Day would have to be hearing a tiny kitten desperately mewing, finding the kitten, and then finding its owners. When I finally located it, and it came running to me at full speed, I knew it was accustomed to humans, so I started knocking on doors. The first one was the winner: two young girls who had been looking for their kitty with increasing desperation. They swore they'd be more careful in the future!

    I love the anonymous chocolates. I'm surprised you haven't yet found the giver, but I'm one who couldn't keep the secret myself. By about day two I would have said, "It's me!" LOL

    I did a little shopping for myself, too. I've been waiting for a decade for my bath towels to wear out, and I'm sure they have another decade or more in them, but I was tired of them. The new ones are called 'fresh olive,' and they're gorgeous. I had white, but the color is a nice change, and is perfect for my new bath.

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    1. At least now when you see the kitten outside you'll know right where she belongs. I follow the lost pets site on Facebook for my area and it's really sad (and shocking) how many dogs and cats are found but they aren't tagged or chipped to get them back to their people quickly.

      I may never find out who left the chocolates. Maybe it was left at the wrong house. LOL

      Towels do last a long time, don't they. At least I can use my old ones for Levi. But your new place deserves new towels.

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  14. I've been meaning to read this book since the movie came out, but you've definitely moved it up on my to-read list. And I love that hopeful quote.

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    1. I really do love re-reading it when I'm trapped in the house by the weather.

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  15. After reading this post I decided I needed to read, “The Martian”. Just finished it and I loved it. Now I’ll need to watch the movie again. Have you read Weir’s other book?

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  16. No I haven't. Have you? Glad you liked this book. I'm always hesitant write reviews for fear I'll mislead someone.

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    1. No I haven’t read it. The first review I read kind of made me question. She said “sophomore slump”.

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