My Year of Binchy – Week 5: Deaths & Weddings

The weather is lovely and I’m ready to READ.

Monday, January 29
  • Book: “Light a Penny Candle
  • Chapters: 10
  • Location: Front porch, with twinkle lights, 34 degrees
  • Smoking: Whatever was leftover from yesterday.
  • Playlist: “For All Mankind: Official Playlist”
  • Did I cry? Yes, Twice. Once when the girls were reunited and once when they parted.

The other day, I was thinking about how I don’t recall a lot of LGBTQIA stuff in Maeve Binchy’s books. I struggled to remember if I could remember any storylines, past a very brief description of an unimportant character. I couldn’t think of any. So I got a bit sad (because it’s classic Jacki to go looking for faults in the things I love before anyone else can find and point them out to me) that Maeve may not be as progressive as I’d hoped.

But then tonight’s chapter reminded me that progressive meant something different in those times, especially the ones she is writing about right now (the 40s, in case you forgot). Divorce is a big one. Abortion another. I imagine writing about these things in the casual, matter of fact way that Binchy does made her quite a progressive writer for her time.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that all of the information we have now, wasn’t always accessible to everyone, past Jacki included. Past you included. Past all of us, really. We have grown so much, but it still seems like we are fighting for the same damn things.

It sucks.

Thursday, February 1
  • Book: “Light a Penny Candle
  • Chapters: 11 & 12
  • Location: Front porch, with twinkle lights, 42 degrees, practically summer
  • Smoking: King Kong in the Bong
  • Playlist: “The Leftovers 1+2+3”
  • Did I cry? Yes, but it was song, not book related.

Somehow I was too cold to stay outside and it is so warm out. It’s not even that windy! It is quite wet. However, because I came inside and because I don’t have to cook dinner tonight because I have Moschek’s lasagne and pie that past Jacki got for me. Thanks, girl (and Mickey who talked me into getting the lasagne because then I could eat it tonight. I guess that was like me also convincing him to get a couple bags of local pierogis for a late night snack. It’s a good encourage circle up here, y’all.). Because of all of that, I decided to read two chapters tonight!

The first one made me think about how mental health was viewed back then. I honestly did not remember Maeve Binchy delving into diagnoses of any sort, but boom, here we are with a pretty crushing one in her very first novel! The character it happens to was so full of life at the beginning of the book and Binchy did a wonderful job of slowing peeling that away and showing the cracks. And, more importantly, showing how big they can be.

This chapter also made me think a lot about masking, like, are there useful masks? Which, I guess, yes, there are. Like the mask you put on when you have to make phone calls to accomplish needs. That’s helpful. But then, what about masks to protect yourself from some perceived but necessarily not there threat? I’d argue that to people who crave authenticity, that is a harmful mask, both for the wearer and the, hmm… experiencer? I don’t know how else to say that.

THEN, my brain went deeper and thought about the masks we wear FOR other people. Like, sure I could be blunt all the time and just use caveman grunty words. But I can’t because I have this deep embedded woman mask that sets off alarms whenever I do that, lest I be considered a bitch or nagging or annoying or in any way negative or bad.

Tell me if what I am describing here is a mask, because I have honestly had so many thick-ass masks for so long that it is hard for my brain to decipher. I don’t know any more. But that is what I thought about for chapter one. I suspect if any of my readers, uh, read this, they’ll get to this chapter and be like, “I didn’t get this out of THAT at all! How high WAS she?!”

on to the second chapter of the night!

I hadn’t realized how many reunions were in this book. I had a second cry, this time when Eileen (Aisling’s mother) and Elizabeth were reunited. Throughout my life, I have a terrible habit of putting myself in the character’s shoes (like almost any character). When I did that this time, it made me sad, because I have a hard time imagining anyone ever being that happy to see me.

Yeah, yeah, my brain is mean to me. I know it. I’m gonna go have lasagne now.

p.s. this playlist slaps no matter what and always has a calming effect on my brain.

Saturday, February 3
  • Book: “Light a Penny Candle
  • Chapters: 13 & 14
  • Location: Front porch, in the daylight, 32 degrees
  • Smoking: Chiesel
  • Playlist: None, the traffic outside and my thoughts are the only noises I hear
  • Did I cry? Yes, because of acceptance.

We had a wedding!! I am very glad I am giving more credence to the descriptive paragraphs, because I LOVED reading about the wedding dress. Ugh, what a gorgeous fashion description. This feels embarrassing to admit, but it gave me literal chills.

Also, before I start my second chapter, I wanted to mention that I added a second set of twinkle lights outside tonight and I can’t wait to see them twinkle. My stoop is gonna have year-round sparkle!

It’s dark out and they look awesome. Here is a pic from the front room where I am writing this because I got very cold outside and came in to write!

Well, here is another thing that is obvious to post-therapy Jacki: I learned a lot about dealing with alcoholic men from Maeve Binchy. This is something that I knew had pretty much always been a part of my life in some way or another. It took me a long time to come to terms with and an even longer time to feel comfortable typing.

It’s her words that are in my head when it’s time to take care of someone. She taught me to be gentle with them, but what I missed were the lessons she was teaching me about also being honest with myself. They flew right over my head.

Or else I didn’t want to see them.

Sunday, February 4
  • Book: “Light a Penny Candle” 
  • Chapters: 15
  • Location: Front porch for the sunset and eventually twinkle lights! 42 degrees out and not moist or windy.
  • Smoking: Chiesel
  • Playlist: “The Leftovers 1+2+3” doing my fair share of singing along
  • Did I cry? I got misty a few times, but no tears fell

Elizabeth had a combination best/worst chapter. She was forced, in one way or another to let go of a couple things that were severly holding her back . Which made space for the most wonderful things to happen. I guess that’s how the universe works, though – if you let go of the things that are holding you down, then that opens space in your life for good things to come to you. It’s just figuring out what the letting go things are.

I mean, I should have taken all those Cowboy Mouth concerts to heart. (that line was for one person. I know she gets me, because Cowboy Mouth is why we are friends.)

And Aisling? Well, she had an awful, terrible chapter. It’s weird how I’ve forgotten all the the dark, depressing parts of all the Maeve Binchy books I’ve read. I only remember thw warm happy way they make me feel. Whereas – for my real life stuff, my brain has a hard time holding on to the good stuff in favor of ruminating hardcore over the bad stuff.

It’s real annoying. I hope things turn around for Aisling. Oh, also, I forgot to mention, we entered ‘Part 3’ of the book after Aisling’s wedding. So, hooray for that.

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