Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On gray hair and email and new direction

The other day my boss, a lovely 30-year-old I like a lot, was surprised to learn that I have a blog and asked me if I write about anything special. The sad part of this story is that I kind of stammered and muttered something like, “Not really. Lately it has mainly been book reviews.” Which was absolutely true. Any of my few long time readers could tell you that I have long lamented not having a passion to drive my writing. So my blog has tended to be a little of this, a little of that.

But I feel like that might be changing. Increasingly, I find that my age is kind of a big deal in my life. I'm 55 years old. Somehow, 55 feels really a lot different than 50 did. I mean, 50 kind of felt like an extension of the 40's. I was still interested in all the same things, and people didn't seem to perceive me differently. But in the intervening five years, that has changed. Admittedly, I may have accelerated the change by allowing my hair to go natural. Meaning, gray. Which makes a surprisingly big difference in how strangers treat you. I'm beginning to understand the old cliché about how older women become invisible. Plus my son and my added on son have reached their 20's, so I'm not mothering in the classic sense any more.  I feel more like a coach or something.

Also, I changed day jobs. I went from a fund raising position at the Girl Scouts to a similar one at the Boy Scouts, both organizations I respect tremendously, just because there was a higher level position available and hey, I'm paying college tuition right now, you know? I didn't expect it to make as big a difference as it did. But at least in my particular council, Boy Scout professionals are young. I am surrounded by 20-somethings most of the time and honestly, I feel like Methusaleh. It is amazing how often things come up in conversation that highlight the difference in our ages.

But today, I had a win. Overnight the national organization migrated our email from one server to another. This meant we had to jump through some hoops this morning to get our email activated again, and then there were a bunch of instructions that had to be followed to get our phones and other remote devices to sync again. I am proud to say that I was the first person in the office to get my email working again and, once our IT support person came in and told me that getting the phone working again would entail deleting the old account completely and starting again, I was the one who figured out how to accomplish that for the Android phones, too, and ended up getting to talk several younger colleagues through the process. It felt great to NOT fit the stereotype!! 

I realize that mid-life blogs are all over the web now, so I don't get any bonus points for originality. But I don't think I care. I'm just going to try to put it out there, talk about how this age feels to me. If people like it, that's great and I'll enjoy knowing I have some readers. If they don't, that's probably OK too. I think I will feel better just having a place to vent and a chance to process some of this stuff. So let the mid-life blogging begin!

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Finer End by Deborah Crombie

I just finished A Finer End, Deborah Crombie's seventh book, continuing the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series. It is set in a small village that has a long tradition of mystical experiences and other-worldly communications. One of the residents of the village just happens to be Duncan Kinkaid's cousin, which makes it convenient for Duncan and Gemma to be called in when the mystical happenings begin to take on some all-too-physical manifestations in the form of an attempted murder and a successful one.

I have a soft spot for mysticism and religion, so I enjoyed the main story line. But I can't help but feel that more than any of the first six, this book might not be everyone's cup of tea. From the early introduction of automatic writing (where the writer is completely unaware of what he is writing, just serving as a vessel through which a spirit can communicate) to ending up in more or less of a quest for the Holy Grail, there's a lot that is metaphysical. Which is not to say that there isn't also a basic mystery, with lots of characters to sort out and evaluate and care about. So there really is a lot there for the average mystery reader, too. And of course, Deborah Crombie's writing is as evocative and compelling as ever. I feel like I've really been to the location and met the characters in real life.

The story of the protagonists' personal lives continues to develop as well. Moving the focus away from the introduction of Kit, which has been the central point of the back story for several books, we find Gemma facing a big personal challenge in this outing. By the end she has made a decision and shared it with Duncan, but there's lots of angst in getting to that point. And lots of unanswered questions about where it will lead moving forward. (Which, as I've said before, is why I enjoy series like this one. I like the juxtaposition of a freestanding mystery in each book against the ongoing story of realistic, messy, three-dimensional character lives.)

I am still enjoying the exercise of re-reading this series, and am excited to see that a new one, To Dwell In Darkness, is being released in September. If I haven't made it through them all by then, I will probably have to take a break from this process to read it. I mean hey, I have to check in on my friends, you know?