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Today in My History

2000:   Advice for Tourists
2001:  The World Changed in an Instant
2002:  Come Fly with Me
2003:  If the Shoe Fits, Buy It
I've Gotta Be Out of My Mind
2005:  Madam Sheila

2006: The Hood
2007: When Does It Stop?
2008: Fear and Paperwork

 Perle Mesta is at it Again
2010: Hour Baur is Alive and Well in Bethesda
2011:  65, the Musical

2012: The Funeral

Bitter Hack
: 10/8
Pride and Prejudice

Books Read in 2013
 Updated: 10/8
"I, Michael Bennett"

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mail to Walt


9 October 2013

I don't remember when my friend Joan encouraged me to join her writing group, but it was probably more than 10 years ago.  Joan and I had "known of" each other for decades, but had never actually had any sort of meaningful interaction.  I can't even remember how it happened that we connected enough for her to invite me to join her group, and I don't really even remember how it was that we started, but I think this was a splinter group off of a larger group she was still conducting.

As I recall, the group I joined was Joan, Peggy (who lives at Atria), Nancy (who recently moved to Atria) and one or two other women.  I wasn't even really sure what kind of a writing group it was, but came to realize that these were people who were working on their memoirs, which is a popular thing to do here in Davis, where there are several such groups all over town.

For me it was kind of strange because I didn't so much want to write my memoirs, which I had been doing off and on with Funny the World ever since 2000, but I was looking for critique of some of the things I had written.

But I was inspired by the dedication and talent of the other writers and very much enjoyed our sessions.

Things changed.  All but Peg, Nancy and myself dropped out of the group, Joan had health problems, life got busy for Nancy and eventually, a few years back, the group just stopped meeting.  We had already given up the writing part of the get together and now it was more a political discussion than anything else.   We went from Bush Bashing to Obama supporting and ultimately our get togethers stopped entirely.

It was really a thrill to find Peg living at Atria.  She's closer to my age than to my mother's and she's very active in all the things Atria has to offer (as opposed to my mother, who is steadfastly determined not to get involved in anything).   She knows everyone, it seems, including the servers in the dining room and can tell you about their personal lives.  I love watching her work the room, so sincerely interested in each person.

When Nancy moved in, we discussed the three of us getting together again, and getting Joan to join us (Joan and her husband have since moved to a different retirement community, and Joan has mobility problems, so arrangements need to be made).   We discovered that, at 88, Nancy's mental faculties aren't as sharp as they used to be.  She and my mother are more alike, though Nancy seems to have a better short term memory.

Peg and I kept talking about this reunion of the old writing group, and today it happened.  I picked Joan up at her place and drove her to Atria, and then went and got my mother (who, though I had talked with her 30 minutes before, didn't remember we were having lunch).  We had an absolutely delightful lunch, which lasted three hours.  Initially my mother was her old sparkly, engaged, interested self, but the longer it went on, the more quiet she got and she finally excused herself and went to her room, while we continued our visit.

It might have been our discussion of walking sticks, canes and walkers, since Peg uses sticks, I use a cane and Joan uses a walker.  Nancy is as adamantly opposed to the thought of any of those assistive devices as my mother (and apparently her daughters are trying to get her to use a walker too), but I let the other 3 talk about them because my mother has heard me talking to her about them for too long. 

Peg also suggested she check out chair aerobics, after Joan mentioned that she is doing that at her place.  My mother has told me angrily that she can't exercise because of her back pain, but with chair aerobics she wouldn't have to get out of a chair and could maybe work off some of the fat she has put on...she hasn't put on any weight, but it seems to have redistributed itself, since she is outgrowing all of her clothes.   Someone also mentioned balance classes, and my mother said she had no trouble with balance and until she did, she wasn't interested. I think it was shortly after that discussion (to which I contributed nothing, knowing better than to put in my oar) that she went back to her room.

But gosh it was nice to have our group together again, however briefly. We're talking about meeting again, next time at the deli where Joan lives.

I came home and worked on finishing my book, "I, Michael Bennett," by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge.  Patterson's big hero in his early books was Alec Cross, and apparently he has run that well dry and needed to find a new hero.  Sigh. I remember when James Patterson was good. That was before he became a factory, churning out a book or two a year, each with a co-author.

Michael Bennett is the white counterpart to Alec Cross. Cross has 3 kids, Bennett has 10 (adopted). Both are widowers. Cross's kids are taken care of by his grandmother, Nana Mama. Bennett's kids are taken care of by a Nanny, Mary Catherine, with whom he is kinda, sorta involved, but not involved enough to prevent him from dating other women.

Both are in law enforcement, Cross in DC, Bennett in NY. Both are expected to accomplish super human feats. (From the cover of this book, "...now Bennett is torn between protecting his hometown and saving New York City.")

This book is intermittently gripping, but then the sophomoric dialog and the ridiculous plot elements are so bad that you have to stop and laugh. And you don't even have the satisfaction of a conclusion in this book, but must read the next book to solve the cliff hanger. No, thank you.  I was so sick of this book by the time I finished, that I'm happy to leave Michael Bennett hanging and not find out what has happened to him and his family.

I don't know if Patterson actually WRITES anything any more, or if he just puts his name on these books, but I'm getting very tired of picking up a book that looks like it's going to be "old Patterson" only to discover that it's very, very bad new Patterson.


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From left, around the table:  Peggy, my mother, Joan, me, Nancy


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