Monday, February 2, 2009

Things I Love

Yesterday, we were invited to a Superbowl Party. I have no feelings about football. It’s a foreign world to me that I don’t care deeply enough about to want to learn more--kind of like Sanskrit. My eldest daughter used to be on the Dance Team at her high school, meaning she danced football halftimes. I always timed it so I’d get there just for her performance. Except once--the homecoming game--my daughter said I’d better get there early or I wouldn’t get a seat. I went, taking a sweater along to knit as I whiled away the l-o-n-g minutes. I sat next to this elderly gentleman (in his 80’s) who had graduated from the school and never missed a game if he could help it. Although I didn’t ask, he began explaining the various penalties and plays. At one point, he took my elbow. “You must stand for the kick-off,” he insisted. I was impressed. He really wanted me to understand this world.
Although, thanks to that kind man, I’m a little more knowledgeable I’m still no big fan of the game. So fortunately last night, true to form, I showed up at halftime in time to hear The Boss.
Last week I was “tagged” by two dear bloggers: Becky Levine
and Nina Amir to answer questions about what I love. They’re both great writers. Becky’s an amazing editor, and writes Young Adult fiction as well as non-fiction books for writers. Nina does non-fiction articles on faith, her dancing son, cooking, and how to become an expert. They asked for between 7-20 things I love. I’ve chosen the number 8, a favorite number of mine as in Chinese the character represents “ever-increasing harmony.”
I take my family & friends as a given in this. I love :
1) Watching my kids participate. In swimming. Basketball. Dance. Music. Theater. If they were in football, I’d love that too.
2) Mornings when the words just dance from my heart so fast my fingers can‘t race across my keyboard fast enough.
3) The beach.
4) Traveling someplace new
5) Playing games--Scrabble, Worm, Charades, Cards
6) Hiking & Swimming
8) Hearing a good story or reading a good book…which brings me to my latest, a book I had no intention of reading. Last month I read the book Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, a non-fiction story written by a father whose wonderful son became addicted to methamphetamines. Tweak by Nic Sheff is the book his son wrote about the experience. I felt as if the father’s book was as much as I wanted to hear, but my teenager (who had also experienced the father‘s viewpoint) wanted to read Tweak.
I thought I’d best preview it. What if it said something like drugs were the most wonderful thing in the world? And it did….for the first 30 pages. But then young 20-something Sheff keeps talking (and it always felt like he was chatting, revealing secrets only a really close friend would)
Like the gentleman at the football game, he took me by the elbow and showed me his world, leading me through the darker side of the streets of San Francisco, defining the drug world that had become second nature to him.
He wrote bluntly about his struggle. How he would go days without eating, had no place to stay, spent hours trying to break into an apartment complex just to take a shower, crawled to the LA airport in his socks, as he’d lost his shoes, stole from his family, begged on the street corner, sold his belongings and his body. All because he’d spent every last penny on getting high. Many times he’d gone sober…and then relapsed. The ending brought me to tears….and I passed the book onto my son.

Oh, yeah, Now I get to do the tagging. I pick Lynn and Sara


Tokyo Biker Mommy said...

Oh you silly girl, tagging me! I don't even know what to do - am i supposed to reply with my loved things or do i just compile the list and keep it close to my heart?

And thanks for turning me on to David Sheff! Thanks to your review i read Beautiful Boy, followed by Tweak and then a compilation of articles based on an HBO special about Addiction, subtitled "Why Can't They Just Stop?" I learned a LOT about drugs and addiction - an area i worry about just because i have a 2 yr old son who is growing up in a culture where drugs are more and more prevalent.


Jana McBurney-Lin said...

The way I read the "rules" is that you're supposed to list down a number of things you love for all eyes--that way we can get to know what's close to your heart.
That's great. I'm glad you found the books interesting, as well.

Anonymous said...

Jana, DITTO to everything re football. But maybe when our 7th grade sons are in HS, we can meet and knit. I might actually finish something. Of course, that's assuming son will even WANT to go to a football game, which is a big stretch!

You are the bravest reader I know. I've seen both those books and thought not going there. The next NF book on my list to read is about the making of Sesame Street! :) But now I kind of want to, um maybe...I might pick these up.

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

Brave? No. Sesame Street is more my cup of tea. But when I was doing a panel at Book Group Expo, I heard the father--David Sheff--speak. I was struck by what a down-to-earth, gentle man he was. How he spoke so honestly about something we'd all want to keep in the closet. I bought his book to support him, and it took me several months before I even cracked the cover.:) It's definitely worth knowing about.

Tricia said...

Hi Jan
I am in the middle of David Sheff's book - what riveting reading and scarey! I just pray my boy does not ever dabble in drugs.....its a big world out there off our mountain....thanks for the recommendation.

Tokyo Biker Mommy said...

OK, here we go.

Things I Love
1. Getting closer to my family the older we all get.
2. Laughing.
3. A successful kitchen endeavor.
4. A good cup of coffee or tea.
5. Movement - dancing, running, skating, snowboarding, bicycling, motorcycling.
6. This guy.

What People Are Saying About My Half of the Sky

My Half of the Sky was the BookSense Pick for August 2006 as well as a Forbes Book Club Pick.

"McBurney-Lin tells a wonderfully entertaining story with the traditional coming-of-age theme (which is experienced universally)...weaving in the cultural challenges of growing up in China's rapidly changing social system."
Mary Warpeha, co-President of the Minnesota Chapter of US-China Friendship Association
March 2010

"The novel ...includes many of the tales and the folk ways of the people living in the rural areas of South China, still followed provincially. The story takes place in current China, but could relate the dilemma of any young woman in rural China through the ages."
Kitty Trescott, National Board of the Midwest Region of US-China Friendship Association. March 2010

"A lot is expected of a young Chinese girl. My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney-Lin is the story of Li Hui, a young girl who has just achieved marriageable age. She seeks to make the most of herself, but the expectations all around her make it difficult, as her parents seek to use her as pawn to their advantage, she is faced with what she believes to be true love. She must balance career, romance, and family, all to somehow make everyone happy, a tough endeavor indeed. An engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end, "My Half of the Sky" is a poignant tale of the modern Chinese woman, and recommended for community library collections.
--Midwest Book Review November, 2008

“It is a rare women’s novel that sensitively describes the life of a young educated woman in modern-day China in its full complexity, without resorting to unnecessary sentimentalism. Jana’s deep knowledge of the realities of life in China and Singapore makes the reading extra rewarding. In fact, with every new page the novel gets harder to put down and you find yourself gobbling it up before you know it. Finally, the author has given a voice to the Li Hui in all of us, as we struggle for the golden middle between tradition and the modern momentum of our world.”
Isabella Sluzek
Friends of the Museum Book Review 2008

You'll be rooting all the way for Li Hui as she struggles, ahead of the curve, to be her own woman in an emerging, modern China. Jana McBurney-Lin's My half of the Sky is a beautiful, witty, touching debut novel.
Thomas B. Sawyer
Head Writer TV Series "Murder, She Wrote,"
Author - The Sixteenth Man

A complex and mesmerizingly original tale of a young Chinese woman caught between the modern world and the pull of her ancient culture. McBurney-Lin’s intimate portrait of China sparks with insights and is peopled with characters so rich and alive, they seem to breathe on the page. Dazzling and unforgettable.
Caroline Leavitt,
Author - Girls in Trouble

McBurney-Lin's debut novel is a gift. Li Hui is a memorable heroine, a young woman torn between her heart and her culture.Her daunting journey is a trip into China's complicated soul, and a deeply moving exploration of love, honor, duty, and loss." Frank Baldwin, Author - Balling the Jack

My Half of the Sky is a wonderfully-crafted story that was obviously written with a piece of McBurney-Lin's heart. A masterpiece."
Lee Lofland, Author - Howdunit: Police Procedure and Investigation

My Half of the Sky heralds the arrival of a fantastic new storyteller. With artistry and precision, Jana McBurney-Lin's clear-eyed prose takes the reader on a new journey into a past world that speaks to a modern sensibility, a modern world, a modern woman. This is a book to be treasured.
Emily Rapp, Author - The Poster Child

Through vivid descriptions of sights and smells, Jana McBurney-Lin's My Half of the Sky is a haunting, emotional journey of what it means to be an honorable female in modern China. Jill Ferguson, Author - Sometimes Art Can't Save You