Lemons

Have you ever bitten into a lemon? I did once, when I was a kid. Note the word once. I quickly realized that some fruit have a taste other than sweet.

Now, I realize that many people love to eat lemons. (My mother for instance.) And this article talks about the benefits of eating lemons: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefit-eating-whole-fresh-lemons-4390.html

Yet I prefer my lemons paired with other things: sugar and water in lemonade; sugar, water, and tea for iced tea; or sugar, eggs, flour, and other ingredients in lemon meringue pie or lemon bars. Even the lemon candy I like is of the sweet and sour variety.

    

It’s much the same with stories. I like a mixture of sweet and sour. Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien; Sabriel by Garth Nix; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016 movie; the novelization was written by Alexander Freed). An author who writes this kind of story has to strike the right balance between hope and hopelessness.

   

Usually I love the point in the story where things are at their worst, and you don’t think good can come out of it—but then it does, sometimes at a high cost. A thoroughly satisfying conclusion is a great reward for that kind of tension.

I also think of lemons because the sourness of life sucks sometimes. I can’t help putting it that baldly. (Yes, baldly.) Jobs are lost. People you love face health issues or are in emotional pain. These moments are the “shut the book, Dad” moments Samwise Gamgee talked about in Lord of the Rings—the moments when you’re not sure everything will turn out right. I’m in that kind of moment right now. Maybe one day, I’ll provide the full details. But I wanted to write about it in the moment—when a happy ending isn’t a guarantee—because often you hear stories of triumph after the fact, after the darkness has passed and the “sun shines all the clearer”—another quote given to Samwise, this time in The Two Towers:

I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you.

These words gives me hope when life hands out lemons. May they enable you to keep pressing on in a sour/dark time of your own.

Now I’m thinking of some words Galadriel spoke in Fellowship of the Ring:

May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.

Lemon image from freepik. Lemon meringue pie image from Pillsbury. Lemonhead image from Target. Quote from Two Towers is from the script by Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, and Fran Walsh © 2002. Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee image from Cinema Blend. Words of Galadriel and others are by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Would You Buy It?

Worth It is a show I’ve binge-watched lately on the Buzz Feed YouTube channel. Have you seen it? Its stars, Steven Lim and Andrew Ilnyckyj, and their camera and sound guy, Adam, sample three foods or beverages at three different prices to determine which is worth the money.

Below are screenshots of two of the items sampled. One is a $2000 pizza with edible gold leaf (yes, $2000; you can see the ingredients list on the photo) and the other is a $2500 caviar soufflé with quail eggs (a Guinness World Record holder for the most expensive soufflé on earth).

  

While the show hosts sampled the wares, I asked myself if I would ever eat gold leaf, even if I had the money. (Another episode, which you can find here, features a $100 donut with gold leaf.) The answer was a resounding no. This is not a judgment call on anyone who would, however.

But a day later, I found myself salivating over a pair of cars Nicki showed on her Behind the Story blog recently. If you head over there, you’ll find a video showcasing the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Giulia and their precision on ice. Or just click here. Each is over $40,000! But when you live in the frozen Midwest, any car that handles that well on ice (you have to see the video) gets your attention.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Gimme?

Maybe to you that doesn’t seem like a lot to pay for a good car. But seeing as how I paid $2500 for my current car (good and used, old as dirt) $40,000 feels like a $2500 soufflé—an unlikely purchase.

How about you? Are there big-ticket items you dream about, but don’t think you’ll buy? Would you treat yourself if you could?

These Shopkins Cutie cars want to do the Stelvio/Guilia ice challenge. Somehow I doubt they’d avoid crashing into each other.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio from caradvice.com.au. Other photos by L. Marie. Shopkins Cutie Cars are a registered trademark of Moose Toys.

When You Don’t Know What to Do, Eat?

www.stuffkit.comWhere do you feel stress? Some say they feel stress in their stomach or neck. I feel it in my desire to scarf down chocolate. Whoa, now, you might be saying. There’s nothing wrong with scarfing down chocolate. I know that, and of course you know that. But if I’m working on a tricky scene in my novel and a thought like, I don’t know what to do to beef up the emotion here, crosses my mind, why is my first thought afterward, So I should get some cookies or better still, some chocolate cookies?

Sigh. I know why. . . . Okay. I admit it. I am a stress eater.

Say it with me: “Hi, L. Marie,” as if we were in a 12-step group. And step 1 is admitting one’s powerlessness to overcome the problem. But that’s after admitting one has a problem in the first place. But the issue became obvious as I thought about my tricky scene and an impending curriculum deadline, plus the fact that this project doesn’t quite cover all the bills. My head began to pound and my thoughts turned to food.

At other times, my thoughts have turned to videogames like Tetris Blitz or Plants vs. Zombies—anything to take my mind off the issues still very much in existence.

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In college and my young adult years, drinking and hanging out with the wrong men were the crutches I sometimes relied upon when stressed. Ha! Like those worked. As Eddie Murphy, who played Buckwheat on Saturday Night Live, once sang, I was “wookin’ pa nub [and stress relief] in all da wrong places.” (If that reference totally confuses you, go here.)

Speaking of 12-step groups, here are the first four steps ala Wikipedia:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or food or videogames or our own failures)—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Wondering why I only included four? The hard work of number 4 is my usual stopping place. If I take a “fearless moral inventory,” I realize that fear of inadequacy is something I’ve battled for years. So when I don’t know what to do rears its ugly head, I go for what I know to do.

Eat.

And the problem of not knowing what to do is still there, still waiting to be dealt with.

I have to again mention The Lego Movie, though my last two posts have done so. (There is so much truth in this movie.) I can’t help thinking of something Emmet Brickowoski, the main character, says at a crucial moment: “I don’t know what I’m doing.” But he does what needs to be done, despite the fact that he feels inadequate.

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Emmet Brickowoski

And that’s what I’m trying to do: what needs to be done. I feel better just admitting that I often feel inadequate. Yet, I still have to get things done. This brings to mind another scene, one from The Fellowship of the Ring, when Gandalf wasn’t sure which direction to take in the mines of Moria (scene 34 here). He sat for a bit, mulling over the problem, until the solution came to him.

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Gandalf in Moria

I need to give myself permission to sit and mull over matters, instead of immediately turning to substitutes like food or videogames. And taking inventory is part of the mulling process.

Thanks for listening! Maybe I can do the same for you someday.

Chocolate from fanpop.com. Tetris Blitz image from lojadogame.com.br. Emmet from aceshowbiz.com. Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf from wallpapermay.com.