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, January 22, 2020

Trash Reading on Cold Winter Nights



I’ve gone into avoidance mode…avoiding the woes around the world, in my house and in my head. I’m pigging out on trash books not to be confused with trashy books. Although at Christmas I accidentally got one of those when I was searching for free reads on Kindle. It was supposed to be an anthology of twelve holiday romances but two stories into the book I ended up removing it from my device because it was two rungs below ‘erotica’---just rude, crude and raw sex scenes strung together. I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination. I could list two dozen alternative names for the body parts most of us hide behind our underwear but just because you have your characters “do it” in front of a Christmas tree doesn’t make it a holiday romance. It ticks me out when book sellers miss-represent genre fiction. I don’t like getting snooker like that. And yes, I'm complaining about a free book which isn't fair, but we're not slicing pie for Boy Scouts here where fairness really counts.

Not wanting to take a chance on another so-called romance genre book I picked a free mystery from Amazon, called Honeymoon Cottage by Barbara Cool Lee. It was okay if you’re looking for mindless fodder to keep you from thinking about your personal woes. And that’s exactly what I was looking for. But it bugged that heck out of me that the author had the living room of the cottage facing the road, the kitchen facing the ocean and she called the beach side of the cottage the back yard. Any realtor who sells property on water will tell you that the road side of cottages are always the back and the water sides are the fronts. But when you get the cheap books at Amazon you’re often getting self-published stuff with no editors to point out annoying errors like that.

After that book I found myself at the dollar store standing in front of a rack of books and the author Julie Garwood caught my attention. I used to read her years ago, she was one of my favorite romance authors but the book in front of me, Wired, was classified as a “sexy, suspense novel.” It was about an FBI agent who was protecting a computer geek who ended up working in the cyber crime unit after they solved a few crimes together and fell in love. Julie still writes in a fashion that pleases me and the book turned me on to reading another FBI themed book titled Perilous Trust by Barbara Feethy which reminded me that in my caregiver days I loved reading ‘witness protection’ themed books, especially if the witness was relocated to an Amish community or a Cape Cod cottage. Ya, I know what you’re thinking. I should be reading the classics or something on the Times Best Sellers list. In my defense, when my problems build up to the point that I daydream about running away from home I want the kind of predictable plots you only get from genre fiction. On the outside I may have been Caregiver Extraordinaire but on the inside I was day-dreaming about someone taking care of me for a change, and I'm still attracted to the idea of someone watching my back if I ever get to milk cows or paint at the seashore. I want my very own U.S. Marshall from WITSEC, damn it! Is that too much to ask for? Well, ya, it is since I haven't personally witnessed a mob hit or a high crime or misdemeanor. 

I finished Barbara’s book and was back on Amazon looking for another cheap read and this time I was attracted to a $.99 book in the Sci-Fi genre by Ken Lozito. I looked up the publishing company to see if his nine space-themed books are self-published. They are and he owns the company. But book one in his ‘first colony’ series had 1,759 reviews with an average of 4 ½ stars so what did I have to lose? I’ve never read a ‘first colony’ genre book before so I had nothing to compare it to, but I liked it well enough to order the second book in the series for $4.99. I had to push myself to finish reading that book and by the time I was done my head was swimming in computer coding geek talk and military tactics. I can now safely say that wars fought in space are not my thing. I can also say if our world comes to an end in my lifetime I will not hop on an airship to go start a colony on another planet. Try as we might, human nature is human nature and we can’t leave it behind like a jackknife that the airport won’t let get past security. We've proven this point over and over again since Biblical times. Human beings will always be capable of love or hate, of petty jealousy or selfless generosity, and being a predator or a protector.

I shouldn’t be reading at all, it’s keeping me up too late and I can’t avoid the elephant-in-the-room that stalks around in my Januaries much longer anyway…the sadiversary of my husband’s passing. But I call tell you one book I won’t be reading---a book self-published by a woman who gave a lecture at the senior hall. She labeled her lecture a “Tribute to Detroit” and advertised it as “a photo journey through the Motor City now and then.” But what it really was was a marketing ploy to sell her book which was set in Detroit in the 1930s. All her photos related to the locations in various scenes in her book---a bait-and-switch book author talk. A cleaver way to lead people into her web and, heck, I was even thinking about buying her book until the very end when she read the description on her book's back cover revealing that the main characters are vampires. I don’t care how much I need a distraction I'd count the scales on a dead mackerel before I'd ever read a vampire book! The author's job before she retired was in the marketing department at Amway, my favorite locally based, international company to badmouth. She learned deception from the best.

After the lecture I went out for lunch with a couple of friends. We were all disappointed in the lecture for different reasons but we had a lively conversation which helped me begin the ascension out of my funk. One more week of trash books for me and I'll officially push the reset button in my head. ©

42 comments:

  1. That wouldn't work for me because of the chronic eyestrain I've had since I was a kid, but I think it's not a bad idea for you to escape for a while. You won't stay there forever, and hopefully you will come back refreshed. You've been going through a lot.

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    1. Reading with a Kindle is a major eyestrain for me. But I'm trying not to buy an actually books since I'm downsizing. I'm hoping I'm nearly done with my marathon reading.

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  2. Enjoyed the recap of your current confessional you’re into avoidance mode. I can identify with that — even the photo could literally be me. I must get rid of some of my books — as soon as I crawl out from underneath them. Much to be said for tuning out with serial book-reading sometimes. I did a period of that after my husband died. Have never been into romance novels but many other fiction and nonfiction types depending on my mood. Occasionally get into biographies and autobiographies — getting ready to start a bio on a real female spy.

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    1. I have a warm spot in my heart for historical romances because they helped me learn to love reading after years of hating to do it. I never got into mysteries like so many others love. I enjoy character development.

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  3. Even down here in poor, benighted Texas, we know that the front of the house faces the beach, not the road. Those little details can make a big difference; that's why I've become such a fact-checker, and why I never, ever take what the internet has to say as the final word on something. The amount of bad information out there -- even on Wiki, yes, ma'am -- is phenomenal.

    I laughed at your comment about counting the scales on a dead mackerel. That's how I felt when I looked up 'Frodo' last night after a friend who's really into fantasy fiction referenced him in a comment. I've never read The Lord of the Rings, and every now and then I get that feeling that I 'should' read it.
    By the time I finished the first two paragraphs in the Wiki article about Frodo Baggins, I was convinced my decision to avoid it was right, and quietly closed the page.

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    1. I was flabbergasted that it didn't seem to be common knowledge that the fronts of cottages face the water. But I guess if you've never been around lake property which here in Michigan would be hard to avoid growing up, it would be out of your realm of knowledge. I wish Amazon would clearly mark the self-published books that have no editor reading them. I do like reading 1st time books to compare them to my few attempts but I'd like to know up front that's what I'm getting.

      I did the same thing with 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Harry Potter'. I thought I SHOULD read them but I never got past the first few pages. And I hate made-up words. I have enough trouble with the standard vocabulary.

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  4. I read a lot, and I totally understand your desire to read something "easy". When I am stressed, I go for the fluffiest novel I can find, although it can't be badly written or poorly edited. Like you, that drives me nuts. I've tried a few of the free Kindle books and given up. Nothing that grabbed me, free notwithstanding.

    That self serving author sounds annoying. We have a really good friend who spent a big chunk of his career at that "soap company" at a high level. I've often wondered how he survived, given what a genuinely nice person he is. Really - he must have had to bite his tongue until it bled a lot.

    Sending you a big virtual hug for the sadiversary. They're hard.

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    1. Thanks for the hug. I caught it.

      I've actually found a few free Kindles that were good. I need to learn how to borrow library books on Kindle. I refuse to borrow actual books from the library...being a bit of a germaphobic.

      There are a lot of nice people who work for Amyway and I'm sure it's a pleasant place to work. But I knew those guys back before they were married and back when they were a startup selling out of their garage. I knew a lot of people who got sucked into their pyramid scheme, before they got sued by the federal government and had to start buying back unsold products from their sales representatives. They were selling get-rich-quick seminaries and a lot of people got burned. Now they are doing the same thing in foreign countries. They are obscenely wealthy and both family lines spend their money supporting a lot of causes that I don't agree with on any level. See, I told you I love to bad-mouthing them. LOL But to be fair, they sponsor some fine things in the community too.

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    2. I used to borrow books from KDL and transfer to my Kindle (best ever!) but they changed their book lending software, and now I can only download to my iPad (with Hoopla) and the iPad screen is too reflective for my taste. If I remember correctly, I needed to upgrade to a higher level of Kindle (I have a Paperwhite) and I didn't want to spend the money. It was truly depressing when this happened.

      Re: your germphobia...I have one too! We were clearly separated at birth. LOL. I avoid potlucks like the plague, but I do borrow endlessly from the library. Hadn't really considered the germy side of that, but have often wondered if the previous reader had a cat, as I have a crazy allergy to them, and randomly I will rub my eyes while reading and have them go absolutely bonkers.

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    3. Just my luck with the KDL software. I have a Kindle Fire 7 but plan to upgrade to an iPad next year. I can't listen to books on tape or view movies on my Kindle because the volume isn't loud enough. I'm hoping I won't have that problem with an iPad.

      I have a TON of allergies, too---cats being one of them! If you tell my you're left-handed, I'll believe we are twins separated at birth although aren't twins often mirror images with dominate hands?

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    4. I'm not left handed but my dad was, one of my brothers is, and I have a kid who is. So there go...long lost sister. :-)

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    5. OH, and the Kindle Fire works! Mine is older than that, so you should be good!

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  5. OH, and I have also tried to read things I think I "should" (e.g. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, best sellers that everyone LOVES) and then I give up. Again. LOL. Life is too short to slog through books I am not enjoying.

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    1. We should start an anti Potter and Rings club with Linda (Shareacres) above.

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  6. So sorry this is a tough time of year for you. Hope you make it through OK. Use what tools that work. I really didn't know that about water front property even though I once lived on a lake. I was 10 so we didn't get much into fronts and backs.
    I have a rule when getting a free book. I read one good review and one bad one. The bad one usually warns me of rampant porn, impossible to follow nerd speak or just way too many characters. If the bad one just doesn't like the main character, I will give it a try.

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    1. That lake front and back thing made me thing about people who don't live in states with a lot of water frontage like we have here in Michigan. I'm sure if I tried to set a book in the desert I'd make a lot of mistakes, too.

      I read the bad reviews, too. Sometimes they aren't fair but you get a better sense of the book than the glowing reviews which are often friends of the self-published. I never write reviews at Amazon. Bad book or not in my view, I admire what it takes to write a book and go through all it takes to get it printed and on Amazon. If I was younger I'd try it.

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  7. Sorry for your Sadiversary. So glad for all your memories! I love GREAT historical romance fiction. Kathleen Woodiwiss, Anna Jacobs, etc. Nothing too fluffy but sexiness left to my imagination. No need to spell it out!

    THAT has been a lot of reading!

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    1. I've been reading back-to-back books from 10 PM to 2 Am, but I'm hoping to break out of that this week. I've read Kathleen Woodiwiss in the past, but not Anna Jacobs. I'll have to look them up. Thanks!

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  8. Had to laugh. I've been perusing the library's online site looking for I don't know what. Of course, ordered more gardening books and a few other craft books. Can't seem to find an easy reading fiction I want to jump into.

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    1. Me neither and I just spent the last half hour looking at Amazon's 100 best Kindle free books.

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  9. Back awhile ago I decided life is too short for bad books. So now I'm pretty picky about what I spend my time reading. Not to say that it's high brow because take one look at my book list for 2019 and you know it's not! But it's stuff I want to spend my time with, characters I want to spend my time with. They might be flimsy to others or weird, but it works for me! Try your library's bookstore if they have one -- a good source for cheap used books. Or swap with people. Just be happy with what you read!

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    1. Having just donated hundreds of books to our library to resell, I don't want to buy any hardcovers for a long while. Your rule of not spending time reading bad books makes sense for the reason you choose not to, but for me I read to help me fall asleep and sometimes bad books work better for that purpose. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. LOL

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  10. Nothing wrong with escaping reality for a while in a book or dozen! You will come back from your respite in good form and raring to go again. At least, that's how it works for me.

    Deb

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    1. That's how it works with me too, Deb. Last night was the first night in two weeks when I didn't read at bedtime, so I'm starting the climb back to what I need to be doing.

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  11. Dear Jean, two years ago I self-published a memoir about my years in the convent. By the end of the memoir, I am hallucinating three presences whom I can both see and hear. That continued for 10 years--from 1966 to the beginning of 1977. (One day I hope to write a memoir about those years.) The reason I tell you this is that those 10 years were hard with the constant voices that I heard, one of them "Anna" trying to get me to commit suicide. So....and now I'm getting to the point!!!!.....I began to read Harlequin Romances. The kind with no sex and barely a kiss or two. They all ended happily. None of them dealt with the war in VietNam that was raging, none of t hem dealt with the abortion debate or politics or the things that made a labyrinth of my mind. All ended up with daffodils and roses! So I read them to escape and I'll never regret that. We all know: for everything there is a season. This is your season to remember and grieve and to be gracious to yourself. Peace.

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    1. I hope Harlequin Romances never change. They are great for escaping to predicted, sweet stories and for getting women into reading who might not have been reading prior. That's what happened to me. I don't regret reading romances either but I wish I could get over caring that some people probably judge me negativity when I do. They are like crackers at a wine tasting, romances clean your palate between books or TV shows that make you think harder.

      It's a hard decision to write about memoir about a troubled time of our lives. I struggled with that decision last year about writing about my caregiver years. Would it give me closer? Help others going through the same things?. In the end, I decided I didn't want to relive the darker days of those years and I destroy all the material I had gathered for the project. So far I don't regret it.

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    2. Dear Jean, I am hoping to begin a new memoir--one on my childhood--in February. There were some dark times, and like you, I find myself wondering if I want to relive them in writing about them. But when I wrote the convent memoir, I learned so much about that period of my life as I wrote and learning, too, really why I'd left the convent. (Although 50 years had passed, I never really understood until I completed the convent memoir.) So I'm hoping that writing about my childhood will give me a new appreciation of my mom and dad. Peace.

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    3. I loved the way you portrayed your parents in your 1st memoir book. Writing about the past really does give us a deeper understanding if not appreciation for how we got from point A to point B and C. If we never had darks days we wouldn't understand the value of our brighter days. Best of luck on your journey back in time.

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  12. Vampires? Oh, mylanta. What a gimmick. I just love the photo at the top. Perfect for the subject! I’m sorry January is a tough month for you. Not too many days and you will have made it through.

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    1. It's that a great photo! I wish I knew more about why it was taken. It took a lot to stage it!

      Yeah for January being almost over!

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  13. I wish to join your anti Potter and Rings Club. I tried, just couldn't go there.
    I have been in avoidance mode lately, as well. I didn't go down romance lane but I did go down the tarot rabbit hole about Harry and Meghan. I have never been one to read celebrity or royal news and tarot cards are a complete left turn. But I came across Tarot by Janine and was hooked. I know it is escapism because I couldn't face any more politics for a while. The fake baby Archie is hilarious. And just when you think there can't be more...BOOM!

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    1. You're in the club. Leave a quarter dues on your away out the door.

      The state of the nation right now probably has a lot of us in avoidance mode. The Harry and Meghan's fake baby story was funny but it's not funny that so many people are willing to believe it. OHMYGOSH, I just looked at that the Tarot by Jamine YouTube about Archie. How can she keep a straight face pulling that shitick?

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  14. Just what I thought..at first. Then I started looking at the christening photo and reading many who analyzed that Where is the Queen? Then I started reading about how many copyrights she has, merchandising clothes, bags, etc. And I am wondering why Archie isn't dressed up every day and thus generating revenue like everything else. Then, the photos in the park yesterday. If that is a real baby, I am a virgin! Ha! Why no photos from their holiday? The more you really look, the more you see discrepancies. You certainly may disagree but I think Janine is right on.

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  15. Mysteries are my go-to genre for escape during troubled times, especially police procedurals with all that orderliness and everything neatly tied up at the end.

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    1. I have tried a few cozy mysteries but nothing has grabbed me, but then other books haven't either. I need to try a mystery when I'm not looking for escapism. I did like the 3 FBI books I've read and they have the same kind of protocols and orderliness with how they tie up things.

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  16. First time to comment but a consistent reader who enjoys your blog immensely!
    Have you heard of BookBub.com ? Many former bestsellers, current e books on sale for $1.99 (some up to $2.99) and I have them send the list on Saturday but there is a daily email offer if you wish. Often an author with a new book about to come out will have an older title featured at the low price to drum up awareness for the newly published title.

    I also have Amazon Prime and order a fair number of things but I have a method... I try to order several things at a time so the shipping is more climate friendly, BUT I order each thing individually with delayed shipping for a $1 digital credit. These credits add up and most of my BookBub titles are therefore free! As are the other Kindle books I buy. Since the publishers now set such HIGH prices I generally get those titles cheaper in paper copies and keep my digital credits for reasonably priced titles OR something I just. have. to. have!

    I hope this info will be useful to you and your many readers. We all have to stick together in this adventure into becoming seasoned citizens, as my son calls me,
    Jeannine in Iowa

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    1. Thanks for sharing this! I have often thought about doing the digital credit for delayed shipping and never really thought about how fast those dollars add up when we're in a reading mood.

      I have not heard of BookBub.com and I will check them out.

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  17. This sounds like the book-reading equivalent to binge-drinking! I read a lot, but I try to be selective, and I have gotten good at putting a book aside if I really can't get into it. In times past I just persevered and finished books that I didn't enjoy reading, which is close to masochism I suppose!

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    1. That's a perfect equivalent. While reading trash books you know you shouldn't be wasting the time, but you can't seem to stop. And it is masochism!

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  18. I'm again woefully behind in reading and commenting on any of the blogs I follow. This is a great post. I never think to look for cheap reads on Kindle...I guess I'm too busy re-reading all the Outlander books over and over -- they calm and comfort me like old friends. I loved your line about not slicing pie for Boy Scouts, by the way. Good one! :)

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    1. You are reading so much non-fiction for your activism I'm surprised you have any time for reading fiction or blogs. I rarely read the same book twice unless it's by mistake, but I can't say the same about some TV reruns so I understand the comforting effect you get from re-reading a favorite series.

      I loved my Boy Scouts line, too. Thanks for noticing.

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