thoughts on books: 1984

The first time I read 1984, I was in high school. It stayed with me. The idea that people would follow someone like Big Brother – too much to process. The notion that facts and memories could be “replaced” with alternate versions. The audacity of erasing the past. The use of doublethink and Newspeak to make the opposite seem correct and to diminish language and thought. Relentless surveillance. Turning family, friends, neighbors and coworkers against each other. Of course, when George Orwell published the book in 1949, these points may not have been so hard to imagine. I didn’t experienced World War II and rise of fascist or authoritarian governments during that period. Yet, the presence of dictators in countries around the world and the rise of similar disturbing political movements and conspiracy theories in recent years have made me think of this book so many times. For anyone who believes that a book published more than 70 years ago cannot speak to us today, read this book. When I reread it in 2013, I rated the book 5/5 stars.

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thoughts on books series

I love to read and about seven years ago, I took on the challenge of reading rereading some “classic” books. I made it through quite a few before my mother came to live with me. Once she arrived, I had less time for reading and little bandwidth to think about the high-concept reading. Rather than reading serious books, I either focused on light-weight books or on puzzles and games. I thought I was starting pivot back to books a couple of years ago but didn’t make the transition. So, I’m trying again.

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i’ll take “botched plan” for $1000

Can we say “Holy bad decision, Batman?” Wow, who knew hiring a new Jeopardy! host would be so fraught with errors! Or that this would be such a crazy week! Or that I would be using so many exclamation points!!

The search for a new host (see my prior post) was one part interesting, one part fun and eight parts bittersweet. Alex hosted Jeopardy! with such ease that it was only when others stepped in that the required skill set became apparent.

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living the long goodbye

Though often applied to Alzheimer’s disease, the long goodbye also describes other dementia-related conditions. Since I last wrote about my mother, her capacity to care for herself has declined. Fortunately, she is physically able to take care of the basics, but mentally she is having a difficult time. I cannot imagine dealing with the level of memory loss she now has – she often doesn’t really know where she is. She still knows me, which is a blessing, but sometimes she thinks I’m her sister rather than her daughter. She mixes up her brothers and her sons. She frequently tries to remember who is alive and who has died. She’s 92 now, so many of the people she once knew have died.

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am I happy yet?

As I mentioned in a prior post, my sister-in-law asks pointed questions that stay with me for a while. During one of their visits a couple of years ago, she asked me whether I was happy with my life. I responded with a tepid “yes”. This lukewarm response was less to do with an overall assessment of life than with a sense that the past couple of years have been challenging. I haven’t achieved what I hoped I would in my professional life or all that I could have achieved. But in reality, I’m not sure that I would change anything because I have enjoyed the journey.

As a never-married woman who has no children, I think some people assume that I must be unhappy and frustrated – I’m not. Or that I must be terribly self-centered – I don’t think I am. Or that I must be pining for love – I’m not. Or that I must be afraid of having no one to care for me in my old age – well, maybe a little. I’m sure many people would find it all very sad or assume that I’m deluding myself about the need for a relationship, but the reality is that I’m very happy with how things have turned out for me. 

Overall, I feel like I am living the life I was meant to live. Some little girls dream of meeting prince charming, having a big wedding and becoming a mother. Even as child, I really didn’t envision getting married or having children – it wasn’t the dream I had for myself. I’ve never been particularly focused on relationships or dating. Many of the activities that I most enjoy are fairly solitary in nature – I’m very much an introvert.

I have everything I need and most things I want – though I would love a magic wand that would quickly finish off my renovations … for no additional cost! I think I could have achieved more, but the jobs that inspired my greatest commitment were not sustainable. I’ve bounced around a bit professionally. I am happy with my job and my work contribution, which is great as many people are not happy with their current position.

Are there new things I would like to accomplish? Yes, I just have to figure out how to get there and make the decision to focus my attention and energy. This has always been the challenge for me. I find it hard to settle into one thing. I’m interested in many things and see connections between issues, so to me it feels like I’ve connected the dots but others see “bouncing around” and lack of continuity. 

As long as I am taking care of my mother, any course changes will be on hold because I don’t have the time or energy to take on something new just yet. The good news is that this gives me some “down time” to figure out what I want and how to get there. I have some ideas and hopefully will be able to take some baby steps over the coming year.

hosting jeopardy!

I love Jeopardy! With Alex Trebek’s death in November, the search began for his replacement. There have been a series of guest hosts and the internet is abuzz over who is the best and who will replace Alex. One of the things people tend to overlook is that it’s not clear which guest hosts would actually like to make the hosting gig a permanent one. Some of the guest hosts seem to consider their opportunity as a bucket list item or a fun lark or a tribute to Alex. There are really only a few who have said they would like to be considered a permanent host, at least from what I’ve read.

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