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HONESTY IS HARD
2 October 2014
All of my life I have done some things because I didn't want to rock the boat or disappoint someone. I've joined clubs I didn't really want to join, taken leadership positions I never wanted, agreed to do projects I knew I didn't want to do. But that feeling of disappointing the person who was so eager to have me part of the team always came first and foremost. And I did a good job with whatever I had agreed to do, whether I enjoyed it or not, because I made the commitment.
Today I sat down and was honest with myself and made a difficult decision. It involved telling someone that I was not going to do something she had been eager for me to do.
I didn't come by the decision easily and in fact, I have known for more than two years that I didn't want to be involved, but continued to be involved because I didn't want to disappoint my friend, who was so happy that I was finally in the group.
But today I wrote to her and let her know I would not be renewing my membership.
I have quit the Shakeseare Book Club.
When I didn't like this month's book selection and was forcing myself to read it before Saturday when there are three other books I would rather read, when I was happy that we would be gone on vacation when the next meeting came around, and when I dreaded my involvement in a presentation later down the line, I stopped and thought -- what the hell am I doing? I'm 71 years old. If I'm not enjoying this, why in the world am I still going?
I wasn't interested in the book club to begin with, when my friend invited me to a meeting. Everyone thinks that because I am a theater person and relatively well read that I must love Shakespeare. But I don't love Shakespeare. Not that this is important for this book club. It's the second oldest book club in California and initially it was formed to study the works of the Bard, but, like with Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, there are a finite number of them and sooner or later you have to branch out into other areas. Now they pick a theme and choose books based on that theme.
The year I went to my first meeting, they announced that the theme for the following year was going to be comedy, I think. I remember that Tina Fey's book was one of the choices, but that was for a meeting that non-members were not allowed to attend. I was kind of looking forward to that theme.
But this is a group of 50 people and you have to go on a waiting list until a slot comes open. You can be invited to two meetings a year, to get a taste of it. So I missed the whole comedy year. Last year the theme was the history of California, which was mildly interesting, but I never got into the daunting book of poetry (I like poetry just slightly more than Shakespeare) and I really hated every single page of "Gidget," which I thought was a terrible waste of time, though I was part of the hospitality committee for that presentation and learned how to make the mint marshmallows which are famous in the group.
This year it's books by women who have won awards. I'm having a hard time getting to the Edgar Award winning "Bootlegger's Daughter"
But it's more than just the book selections. I was hoping for a relatively small group of women who sit around discussing the books -- and life in general -- but this is 50 women who rarely discuss the book, but sit and watch a presentation by 3 women who usually have not very good stage presence, reading from prepared material using a very bad mic, so that I miss half of what they are saying. It's more of a class in the book rather than a discussion of the book. I go home feeling unsatisfied every time. So why pay $35 for the privilege of doing it for another year?
The last time I wrote about book clubs several people said I should start my own, but what I really want is a small group of people whom I have known since my 30s and with whom I have grown up and shared all of my feelings for the past 30-40 years, women whose secrets I know and who share my own secrets. I can't find that and it's too late to establish that kind of relationship now.
I don't know what I want or where I want to look for it, but really, the Shakespeare Book Club isn't it, and it's time to be honest about that. Then I can go read the book I want to read this week!
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Day 93: Now I can start reading this!
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