Thursday, March 24, 2016

Two Years Gone

It’s coming up to two years. Perhaps you too have changed your life radically once before, a move-a separation-either uncontrolled or controlled, and can relate to the loss of orientation. The following happens to me on a regular basis (it's not a riddle or a math quiz): Whenever I pass through a certain train station, I question which platform I need, which way is home? I still feel that home is out there waiting, waiting elsewhere than where my cat listens for my key to open the door. Continually searching at the bustling train station, after slight deliberation, I slowly turn my hesitant feet away from the old platform and, for reassurance, softly repeat the number aloud of the new platform.

Home wasn’t so much a location as a lifestyle.  Home is a situation that you grasp with both hands, and place within your heart.  I don’t know if I will ever feel that I have such a home again.  A lot of people do without homes on a permanent basis; I suppose at the end of the day it’s not such a big deal. I am not complaining about my lifestyle, hectic and entertaining, however I do miss the lengths of downtime I used to encounter on a more regular basis in my former life, my marriage.

Having made the step outside the safe box, I’ve kept changing. Five months have passed since the surgery.  I googled “clothes after breast reduction” and came up with some amazingly uninformative links, or links that only focused on the blanket outer issues. What is it really like? I was wondering if anyone felt the way I did. Ecstatically glad that I had the operation, and exploring this new me.  I had, and quite rightly before the surgery, understood that imagining the types of clothes that I would be able to wear was a bit of a dangerous occupation. Mostly I allowed myself to obsess over photos ladies wearing of halter-top necklines. Other than that I was happy to finally dump the idea of wrap around dresses and blouses. When you have a figure a la Dolly Parton you wear clothes like Dolly Parton. Not because you love them, but because otherwise you look like you are expecting triplets, all the time for years on end, endlessly pregnant.

Two months into It’s Finally Me At Last I felt it was safe to at least buy some new yoga trousers. I had seen a shop offering soft folding jersey pajama bottoms with gathered legs that would also masquerade as an attractive and trendy type of yoga trouser. It was December and the sales were on.  Top timing I thought and, for the form of the matter, decided to try them on.  It took me five minutes to get over the sight of myself in the mirror.  Obviously I was not going to buy them, not even on sale, not even as pajamas. Was it the style?  I asked myself looking aghast at the proportions of me in the looking glass.  Was it the pattern?  A small but fun purple paisley pattern that did not particularly scream I’m pajamas.  The problem was both these notions combined together and placed on my body.

March: It’s becoming warmer.  Abandoning the turtlenecks I now adore, I wore an old outfit last week to the office, namely a fitted jacket and a camisole. I felt uncomfortable in the v-neck idea. Before it wasn’t a problem, that was the only way I didn’t appear to be thirty pounds heavier than I actually weighed and gave me some sort of line that didn’t just say bulk-o-rama.  I decided to generally avoid v-necks in future.

Finally fully back to my exercise routines; my weight has shifted even more during the course of these last three months.  The fat rolls around my back irritate me, because I can feel them rubbing against each other.  Before, I was hunched over and didn’t particularly notice.

Twelve, I thought coming out of the operation, my chest is that of when I was twelve. And I am not twelve. In fact I realize that it was the moving beyond twelve, that development, that made me not twelve. Now I was back at the starting gate, as when I was twelve, but I will not stay there either.

Presently it’s the limbo that I am somehow neither here nor there, that causes me to catch my breath, so poignantly at times. I’ve understood that my body form will change; my rib cage has already come up and expanded, my arms and shoulders look different, the idea of a waist (not tailored because of the heavy awning) but a more athletic torso is most likely what I will end up with when a quantity of my excess weight comes off of me in what I am guessing is a few months time, maybe sooner than later or maybe later than I would imagine.  Who knows? It’s really hard to grasp the notion that the way I can now use my body will change the overall appearance and presentation.

I don’t want to wear the girly clothes anymore, those shoes with bows across the toes.  In fact I don’t like them at all; they were part of the package that I made myself before, to assemble some sort of image that would make my body type more acceptable to the general public, tone it down. I want to wear a French blue and white striped sailor tee-shirt with a high neckline across the shoulder bones, and a pair of blue jeans and look boyish in ballerina flats.  I am not quite sure this will happen. I might look terrible in this outfit, like the yoga trouser experience. My brain still has a hard time fathoming these possibilities.  In the meantime, I keep prompting myself to move forward by identifying small items aloud from time to time to make sure I am really here with my feet on the right platform, surviving the shifting layers of reorientation. I figure this might take another year or two...or more.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Short Story: Out of the Pen

Out of the Pen is a short story that first appeared in the American Women's Club Amsterdam publication Tulip Talk as a three part series.


Part One:

Marguerite passed her time waiting for little Tulipe by ordering a coffee in the café overlooking the murky green water in the canal on the Singel.  Gazing out over the small public square set upon the bridge, she observed a group tourists gather around, obviously chilled in their selection of overenthusiastic spring apparel, uneasily admiring the bronze statue of Multatuli.  Bravely, they showed insignificant appreciation of the importance of this unheard of man, as well-bred and shorn sheep herded together by the good intentions of their guide’s panting introduction to Max Havelaar. The statue’s flamboyant hair immobile in the spring breeze, the moot influence of Max’s creator upon colonial mannerisms was steadfastly put forth in the best light possible by one of the city’s self-appointed experts. The information was unlikely to ring any bells.


Tulipe wouldn’t be let out of school for another hour. Marguerite, jobless, had offered to pick up the child on Wednesday afternoons.  It was unfortunate, Marguerite thought, that Tulipe’s southern, Altantic, mother when new to Amsterdam, had become so resoundingly enamoured of Dutch culture before Tulipe’s birth. The girl’s father would have preferred Sophie, but he was overruled even in the choice of the second name, and no one in his family responded to anything that even remotely resembled Mata Hari. Tulipe’s Bostonian father was reduced to fondly calling his daughter ‘Tutu’ when in town, on occasion when he was back from his frequent business trips. One of these business trips happened to have coincided, unfortunately, in the week of Tulipe’s birth and therefore, to his regret, he was not the person who registered his daughter at the city hall.  His mother-in-law had done the honors. Athough Tulipe was only seven, her father had firmly resolved not to ever buy her pearl earrings and turned a blind eye to any trending hype about Dutch icons.

Seated on her brown café chair, the type of brown chair that makes one understand that one is in a brown café in Amsterdam, Marguerite adjusted her sweater sleeves, reviewing the topics she might contemplate during her hour’s wait. Indecisive, her attention was drawn to a man in a discussion with the proprietor of the café.

“What are you,” the proprietor was asking in stumbling English, “Some kind of poet?” He wiped his hands on his apron and turned away from the counter to warm a pitcher full of milk.

After a hint of a dry laugh, the man let out protest, “It’s to promote art.”

“So you are telling me that I am supposed to give you a free coffee for a poem?” The proprietor’s broad back was indignant. “New kind of turd tourist,” he muttered under his breath as he closed the steam spigot. The customer, in his opinion, looked as though he could afford to buy a cup of coffee.

Above his thin grey turtleneck, the poet looked around the near empty café. “Suppose,” he negotiated with the proprietor, “I give you a free poem and the poem pays for the lady’s coffee.” He caught Marguerite’s eye and smiled.  He was looking at an attractive woman in her late twenties, wearing a green cardigan sitting alone at a table.  To him, she looked more receptive to the arts than the proprietor.

Marguerite felt her spine contract slightly, but on the other hand she liked poetry and after all she had an hour to kill.  She raised her eyebrows.

The poetry man saw the woman raise her eyebrows. The proprietor saw the woman raise her eyebrows at the poetry man. “What the hell,” he thought over the empty tables, “It’s spring.” He set Marguerite’s cappuccino down in front of the poet. “Okay,” he said “It better be a good one. She looks like a classy dame.”

The poet drew a notepad from his jacket pocket with one hand and reached for a pen with the other. His hand brushed the front of his grey turtleneck as he did so, a slight variation of an Arabic greeting, thought Marguerite romantically from under her eyebrows.  She watched him write swiftly. He paused from his task, looked sideways at her and said, “My name is Giovanni.”

“That’s a nice name,” she said slowly, “Do you need my name for the poem?”

A pause. “No.” He continued to write, his dark head leaning over the notepad.  He handed the notepad to the proprietor who took the poem in between his large hands, holding it up to the light and squinted at the words. “It doesn’t rhyme.” He said finally and waved the man away.

Giovanni picked up the coffee and the notepad and brought them to Marguerite. His hands asked whether he could sit at her table, his gesture friendly and elegant.

The proprietor appeared at their table. He folded his hands across his barrel chest and looked straight at Giovanni. “Are you going to order something else?” He asked, his voice indicated that he expected custom. “This establishment is a one poem per century only kind of place.”

Marguerite read the poem.

As I gather your attention

Grain by grain

Into the ring of my embrace

The price is but a poor one,

Both supple and green.

Would you distain my gift

Or worship it

So quickly digested

So slowly paid.



Marguerite read the poem again. One word caught her eye. It was uncanny, Tulipe had been accused of purloining a ring from her mother last week, and despite threats and bribes, the ring not been made to reappear.

With a satisfying thump of heavy tableware the proprietor set down an espresso in front of Giovanni.  They had 43 minutes left before Marguerite was due in front of the school.  Giovanni reached for the sugar.
 
Part Two


Wavering in the classroom watching for Marguerite to appear, Tulipe trailed her jacket behind her on the ground.  Tulipe had a funny way of standing about, her shoulder blades jutted out away from her back. Although she was solidly built, Tulipe always seemed a little angular to people who observed her movements. It was in the way the back of her head rotated on her neck, her habit of standing on one leg, the other knee bent, the slight bulbous quality of her buttocks suddenly growing out of her thighs. Tulipe’s inharmonious physical mannerisms were overshadowed by her intellectual qualities.
Tulipe expected Marguerite to be slightly late; Tulipe knew that Marguerite’s first priority was not being on time to take overly good care of Tulipe.  Marguerite, although somewhat scatter brained, had a lot of irons in the fire.  Tulipe wondered which one was being heated that afternoon. Tulipe’s teacher turned to her and said, “You’d best be going, there is your nanny.” Tulipe wasn’t sure Marguerite was her nanny. Tulipe felt more like a nanny for Marguerite. Tulipe’s teacher didn’t really like the child oddly posing as a heron in front of her despite the gourmet cupcakes Tulipe’s mother made on any occasion for the class.  Red velvet was a weakness of Tulipe’s teacher. Maybe it was the name, but she felt seduced every time she heard the words roll out of the American woman’s mouth. Tulipe’s teacher imagined herself in a Ric Rac festooned apron on a Wisconsin farm in the springtime looking over a clump of bluebells from a whitewashed porch holding a plate of a dozen moist cupcakes or merrily waltzing down a New York street with a massive cup of coffee to go-go and a giant vanilla frosted cupcake in a brown bag swinging past the brownstone houses, focus on the muffin. Tulipe’s teacher, recently broken up with her boyfriend, the best one she had found so far and was sorry to see his back of receding, was thinking of getting away from Amsterdam.

Marguerite appeared lightly flustered.  There was a blush across her nose, the blush that slowly grew when she was in the process of thinking up lies. Tulipe never lied. It was a point of principle with her, but circumstances being what they were in the world, Tulipe had learned not to tell the truth, neither willingly nor too often.

“We’re late!” announced Marguerite incorporating Tulipe, “Your mother is waiting for us. She’s planning to take you to the shoe store this afternoon.” Tulipe decided that Marguerite’s priority at that moment was being alone in Tulipe’s house while her mother shopped for new shoes and Tulipe tried to wrangle the fanciful shoes she favoured out of her mother’s wallet. Part of the reason why Tulipe was always standing on one leg lately was because her shoes were too small.  “You’ll never find it.” Tulipe thought sincerely.

“Aren’t you lucky,” the teacher said to Tulipe while she was really thinking of cupcakes, “New shoes!”  The teacher wanted new everything in her life but mainly, at that exact moment, all she consciously knew was that she wanted a fair amount of baked goods, sooner than later. 

Marguerite had come to Tulipe’s mother aid by way of the expat reading club. “Where were you?” Tulipe asked. The blush lingered on the bridge of Marguerite’s nose. She couldn’t decide to lie or not to lie to the child.  This was the problem with Marguerite, she could never quite make up her mind, and when she did, she often deluded herself into thinking the opposite had happened. Had she had coffee with Giovanni? Since when did she decide that having habitual afternoons with strange men was a habit? Was it a habit? No, she didn’t often allow herself to engage in conversations with that many strange men. Did she? Had this happened once? Or twice? She tried to think. How bad was the situation?

Near the house Tulipe announced, “I got to pee so bad my eyes are floating.”  Tulipe had a number of southernisms that were new to Marguerite’s non Southern ears. Marguerite was raised in Cleveland.

“Tuhleepuh!” a voice called out above the steep entrance stairs, “I am madder than a wet hen right now!” Tulipe’s mother blocked the landing. “You tell me right now missy did you take my ring?”

Wedged in her too small shoes Tulipe stood knock-kneed in front of her mother. The little girl flats were pink and sported a ragged white flower on the outer side. The sides and the toes were scuffed bare, the elastic strap frayed. Tulipe’s shoulder blades stuck out behind her definiantly, she dropped her jacket on the floor.  She tried to move around her mother.  “Not so fast there.” Her mother drawled. “Don’t try to be slick with me, you’re not pig snot on a radiator you know.”

Marguerite stood behind Tulipe trying to figure this last one out. How did pig snot get on a radiator? Did this often happen in the South? Was it actual pig snot, or did it mean something else? Come to think of it, it didn’t snow in Altanta, did it? Did they have radiators in the south? Did they keep pet pigs in the house? Do pigs need a warm environment? How much snot does a pig produce? Marguerite was of no help at all, as a matter of fact, she wasn’t highly focused in general so it was of no surprise to either Tulipe or her mother that Marguerite stood numbly in the hall looking a little pained.

Tulipe, sunk a little lower on her knees, squeezing her thighs together, her white socked heels bursting against the back seams of her tired shoes, regretfully opened her long slanting mouth, and talked.

Part Three
“I don’t know why,” Marguerite confessed. Giovanni sat across from her, they had moved from the café on the Multatuli square. The poem ruse had worked several times at various establishments, but they had grown tired of the game, and had chosen to sit that morning in De Jaren instead.  De Jaren, a spacious café with a waterfront terrace, was near empty on the Thursday morning.  Giovanni enjoyed Marguerite’s company, she was always game to be led astray.  He wondered if she consciously understood this about herself.


“You are looking for security,” he suggested.  He had ordered tea instead of coffee; the weather was inconceivably splendid. It was the type of morning that one hardly believes has arrived, the flat blue sky opened up as if a witch has cracked a hazelnut apart with her bony fingers, rendering the flaking pinkish haze into water colour hours where borders are smudged and horizons expanded, and all one thinks about is how to take advantage of the cloudless day and rebottle the moment.

Marguerite looked troubled. Why had she told him? But then she told him everything since she’d met him.  They happened to be on the same train coming back to Amsterdam from Haarlem.  She’d been to see the art exhibition Sympathy for the Devil: Temptation’s Calling and found him, trim and handsome, on the intercity train trying to check his email with the inadequate free WiFi offered by the Dutch rail system. True, she didn’t know that many people and she was lonely. The book club had been a filler for time while she networked to gain employment. The ladies had chosen to read “A Bloodsmoor Romance” but there had been more discussion about wine and the baked goods selection.  Tulipe’s mother had brought banana cupcakes with honey cinnamon frosting, and two bottles of rosé. “Martha Stewart’s,” she announced flapping her frazzled gold cardigan across her thin chest. “Recipes are tried and true.”  Everyone agreed the cinnamon was subtle, but made a big difference.

“Security,” thought Marguerite. “I needed some security.”  She wondered if her desire to be claimed by a man, a ring on her finger, stemmed from her need for someone else’s security. 

“Mama,” Tulipe’s scarlet mouth had articulated mournfully, “I found your ring in Marguerite’s make-up bag.”

Tulipe’s mother recoiled. The ring had been her grandmother’s engagement ring when she’d been linked to the celebrated Savannah poet, Beaufort Charles Paardehaar. Mamie had never returned the ring when it had appeared he’d gravely insulted her with his allusion to her beauty in his famous sonnet, “Faux Bois Locks and Deficient Stocks,” but wisely kept it after dissolving their engagement publically in the Savannah Morning News Obituary Section. Old Charlie Horsehair’s ring in Marguerite’s make-up bag? Marguerite had a make-up bag? Tulipe’s mother inspected Marguerite’s face carefully. A dusting of green eye shadow graced her eyelids, the lips were naturally pearly pink, the cheek smoothed by a lick of concealer.  The ring was a fake, the family had assumed, until it was proved that it was actually a Conquistador emerald. “So I hid it in the box of Christmas ornaments. She’ll be gone by then.” Tulipe explained jerking her head towards Marguerite.

“Why did you take it?” Giovanni had asked Marguerite.

She hadn’t planned to sell it; Marguerite had wanted to keep it, love it, wear it yet it was not her possession. She gazed at Giovanni. He’d become her friend, and not her lover. She’d proposed once to him wearing a backless and sleeveless shirt, her hair loose, swinging a leg provocatively and he’d retorted that he didn’t allow himself to be misled by random temptresses. “In the right environment you’d glorify any man,” he’d said lightly smiling at her.  Marguerite thought that he was ungrateful, after all it was her poem she’d lent him to be debonair.


As I gather your attention

Grain by grain

Into the ring of my embrace

The price is but a poor one,

Both supple and green.

Would you distain my gift

Or worship it

So quickly digested

So slowly paid.



“So what,” Tulipe’s mother finally worded her answer to Tulipe, “Were you doing in Marguerite’s make-up bag?”

Marguerite’s nose blushed, “I told her she could use my eyeliner.” Released from her confinement by the lie, Tulipe made a beeline for the toilet.

Tulipe’s mother appraised Marguerite slowly, “Fresh batch of High Hat Cupcakes waiting in the kitchen,” she finally stated with great politeness and much indifference. “Poets,” she thought ruefully, “Always making a mess of things.”


Race My Brain On Race in the Netherlands

The card lay on the countertop. “Who is that for?”

“The French girl who fell last week.” I hadn’t been to the stables for months. I couldn’t place her.  That wasn’t the dark girl, was it then, because I had seen her at the lunch in December but she wasn’t French. Wait what was I going to ask? Something about the dark girl?

My brain on racism: I had seen the dark girl, fluffy hair, and thought - how nice a new rider, and a dark girl, and….uh, why is this important her skin color?  Does this really matter?  Why am I thinking about this? Why is it so exceptional that a dark woman is riding a horse?  It’s not, lots of riders all over the world with different skin colors, but somehow I have been conditioned to think that this is “special” and I must be generous and kind….and condescending.  I hate myself this way. I am sure she does not get up in the morning saying, “I am going to take my deep skin pigment to the stables and ride a horse along with some white people.”

Of course, we have all seen the slogan, “Black Lives Matter” but then the reverse, a photo of a very dark man wearing a tee shirt with the words written on it “White Lies Matter” suddenly showed up on my FB scroll. How often have I listened to acquaintances, friends, and family remark, joke, talk about black people.  Even my non-Caucasian friends make comments about fundamental differences in human appearances.

My step grandfather told me a joke once.  “You don’t find it funny,” he said kindly looking over to me, understanding that my generation did not find it funny.  My generation, humph, I am moving into the old and nearing older.  

“White Lies Matter” reminds me of the time I was hired in Paris by the president of a major cosmetic concern to nanny his daughter.  I was one of a series of British, Irish and American nannies.  When I left, I recommended a friend to replace me. “She’s half Japanese,” I said.  My employer literally recoiled. “But she’s also upper class British and has aristocratic ties.” Well, that was all right then.  Pedigree helps.

Recently I was informed that some years previously a person of color had applied for a position in an office where I have worked.  He was categorically refused an interview by upper management despite his qualifications. “But I would have not minded,” the human resource manager stated with a bright smile.

“Pepper spray,” a new expat mentioned to me a month ago after his spouse related her metro ride to her first day at work in Amsterdam, “She was the only white person in the metro. I think I will get her a bottle of pepper spray. Every woman had one on her person in South Africa.”

But not in Holland.  After he made this statement, the entire company present did that polite Dutch thing.  Non-confrontational tolerance. There was a silence, then a polite query, “Pepper spray? No, that’s not something typical here.”

White Lies Matter.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Visiting the Flintstones

It is a small thing, a pink toothbrush. One of those My Little Princess Pony items with some sort of yellow and blue colors briefly embedded in the hot pink body as a badge of honor.  It called out from the sink, “I am cute. Take me!”

I wondered whether it was the thing to do: buy a child’s toothbrush to leave at your current whatever/boyfriend’s/lover’s house. Because it was in fact a grown woman who was using the pint sized piece of hygienic technology.  Later back home I googled the concept.  Maybe women are supposed to leave a girlie toothbrush around their boyfriend’s place because it says, “I am just passing through – when I get way older in two months – I will leave anyway – get a job – travel the world.” Or maybe it’s supposed to say “Playmate nothing more until we disagree on whether you get the green cup or I get the green cup.”  Non-threatening quibble and so forth.

Google showed me the complexities of the What the Toothbrush Means in today’s couple or non couple language.  A whole lot of anguish I observed scrolled by my ever widening eyes. Do all women leave hot pink Pony Princess toothbrushes at their lovers’ apartments? Apparently not, I couldn’t find the advice in any matter of solid form to leave a pink toothbrush at His Place, not even in Glamour Magazine.  I guess the decision is left up to the occasion.  But then, okay maybe I am obsessing here, if a woman leaves a Hot Wheels Firefly kiddo toothbrush does that mean more than a Pony Princess toothbrush? Or does that in some way represent her style of sexuality?

Toothpaste is seemingly not an issue. That is a silently agreed on shared commodity. Dullsville. However, the boyfriend could have provided Spiderman Colgate toothpaste, and played the game right.  He and She Things.

I don’t remember being excited about toothbrushes or toothpaste as a child (those are things you get excited about as an adult when you shell out 75 or whatever for a new electric one), but I loved those vitamin pills. You know the Flintstones ones. My grandmother bought them for me. I appreciated her care and thoughtfulness and they tasted like candy.  It blew my mind that someone would buy me fancy pills with the intention to keep me healthy and in the back of my mind I questioned whether I was as healthy as I was supposed to be as a child. Was I okay? How consequent was the goodness of the Flintstones? Would I be better? Should I act like the children in the commercials to make my grandmother happy, justify the expense? But maybe my grandmother bought them because she also took pills. Then we could take our morning pills together, the Wilmas and Freds.  Very cozy. It felt very grown up and important. 

I looked at the pink toothbrush and wanted to check in the cupboards to see if someone had bought the highly dyed sugar laden vitamin pills as well. Out of curiosity. But I didn’t. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

How to Win a Woman’s Heart

Well, I am nearly 300 pages into Ulysses by James Joyce and every once in a while I google a word, like thewless or mavrone when I run across it on a page. I also, for the fun of it, googled “How to win a woman’s heart” when I ran across that phrase center stashed in a paragraph.

Hypnosis.

Yes, that is an answer, one of many, which is offered by a male to other males online.

I tell you, if hypnosis was the answer, then we won’t probably all be reading, or looking forward to reading, Molly Bloom’s soliloquy. What fun would that be if it spouted a load of macho heroics, dictated, at us?

Hypnosis. When exactly, because the timeline of this idea is a little vague to me, is a man supposed to hypnotize a woman to win her heart? When he meets her for the first time, or when he’s managed to persuade her into going out with him?  Because in the first place, if she’s not keen on going out with him, then I doubt he’ll have the opportunity to hypnotize her, and if she doesn’t feel like going out with him, then he’d have to hypnotize her to get her to go out with him.

But then, what kind of hypnosis are we talking about?

Clean slate now, let’s forget the hypnosis hypothesis because it’s a pretty dumb idea after all.  How long does a man want to win a woman’s heart? What if he forgets to snap his brawny fingers?

And furthermore, why should a woman act hypnotized to hook a man?

I recently ran into an acquaintance who happened to be out on a date; her doe eyes wide, her sensors tapping overtime in the dark sussing her first time beau out.  She looked kind of well, hypnotized, because there was a man sitting next to her who was supposed to open a door for her and not openly fart in the car.  It was as if she was listening for a sentence that would soon whisper over the breeze to her, “I adore you.  Your eyes are like stars. Your breasts like moist sponge cakes.” And I could tell she wasn't quite sure she was heading for the till to buy the idea if she happened to hear it. That kind of hypnotized, the unsure type of wide eyed hypnosis of a first date.

A well-meaning friend of my parents used to hand me, aged 13 and onwards up, all sorts of romance novels.  I suspect she had a notion that my ideas of romance were not being suitably developed. I would dutifully read Mary Stewart and cohorts and report back.  My book reports were the type of “Set in Ireland, Leopold meets Molly and spends a lot of time in the dunes with her admiring nature and discussing empirical plans in the art world. She's wearing her crimson silk garters. He’s got it all, he’s set to succeed and all he needs is the right woman beside him, one that he can exploit from time to time. They will conquer the world together because Molly has a good head on her shoulders and can manage the paychecks and definitely chose the right kind of quality serge curtains to last a lifetime.”

Then there was the one set in Jamaica, or the one set in France with butter toned heroes etc. After a while I didn’t and still don’t want to read any more about hypnotized heroines. Instead I am enjoying the likes of Ulysses, a motivational story of which the ancient tale never quite spoke to me so much as now.