My Year of Binchy – Week 7: A New Irish Name!

Okay, well, I am at the library for my first day of reading today. Tonight, I have a meeting of the Historical Commission and it’s at the library because we only have budget enough for six full meetings during the year. So on the of months, when we still have things to discuss, we’re doing ‘em at the library.

So I had Mickey drop me off here on his way to work, so I could spend some quiet time before the meeting. I brought my iPad and my Kindle and delighted with the view. You know, I should have brought my stand to do a time lapse, because it looks like the sunset is gonna be spectacular.

Thursday, February 15
  • Book: “The Lilac Bus
  • Chapters: “Nancy”
  • Location: The Melvindale Public Library
  • Smoking: I mean, nothing, I am at the library
  • Playlist: I forgot my ear beans, so nothing. I’ll remember them next time
  • Did I cry? I HOPE NOT.

If this first line doesn’t describe me to a T (as I sit in the library 2 hours early for a meeting):

”Nancy was early, but then she always was, and she didn’t like being seen there too soon.”


Again, we’re starting off with rationing mentions, so I guess we’re in the war times again. The time when, if a Londoner visited Ireland, they brought back a suitcase stuffed with potatoes and veggies. Or, then maybe I am reading too much into her words (this has been known to happen in my brain) and Nancy just has a family that likes to load her up on supplies when she goes back to the city.

It’s that obviously, cause the girl lives in Dublin, you dolt of a brain. What is she, taking a Lilac Bus over the water? It ain’t a lilac boat!

Okay, yes, we are more modern than the last book – we’re talking about color TVs and ‘videos’ which is what they call VCRs in these books.

Also, new Irish name alert: Mairead – how would your brain pronounce it?

The characters

Ok, so I’m meeting all the people on the bus now, who I assume I will be reading about later in the, uh, later chapters. I wonder what their secrets are.

  • Nancy (duh)
  • Dee
  • Rupert
  • Mrs. Judy Hickey
  • Mikey Burns
  • Mr. Kev Kennedy
  • Celia

Oh goodness, Nancy, could you feel anymore like me? Enviously watching people easily talk to each other without a gazillion swirling thoughts in my brain, telling me all the things I want to say are wrong. But then when that magical combination happens where there is both a relevant thought in my head and a lull in the conversation, the topic has already been changed 57 times.

Nancy has referred to what Maeve Binchy describes as a shop that feels like a health food store as a “quacks shop”. I don’t know if times have changed that much or just me, but I’ve never thought of a health food store as a quack shop. I tend to trust them more than doctors, for the most part.

Nancy is automatically judgemental about Celia. This used to be my reaction to people I envied. I was jealous of them – jealous that they could felt free to dress and act how they wanted. They didn’t seem to be in shell that they had invented to protect themselves. And even more so… people seemed to effortlessly like them.

So that much hardcore jealousy would turn into judgement. I’ve since been to therapy and doing a whole lot of work on my brain. Now I know that when I have a negative snap reaction to something that makes no logical sense, to take a little deeper look at what’s behind it before I let it bubble to the surface.

It happens so much less now, y’all.

p.s. I was right about the sunset.

I love the phrase “wet a pot of tea” instead of, like, putting the kettle on or something similar. I’m gonna start using it!

Oh god the class differences between people were something else I never really paid attention to when reading Binchy in the past, but they are apparent to me now. Like, I knew there were differences in the way doctor’s kids and maid’s kids were treated. However, I did not ‘get’ the parts where Binchy is slyly calling out the silliness of the differences.

Nancy is such a spendthrift who is obsessed with the money everyone makes and spends, but she is oblivious to the unfairness of it all in a way.

I am learning more about the other people on the bus instead of Nancy in this chapter. All I know about her is that she’s cheap and tries to be as efficient as possible and these two things don’t seem to make anyone happy.

Okay, there is a mystery about Judy Hickey being set up. I, of course, do not recall what it is. But my brain is telling me she is growing and selling ouid. Doubtful, though. That seems too modern. We shall see.

I will tell you this chapter reminds me a lot about the times I got fired (yes, times – it’s difficult to be neurospicy in capitalism) and the pit I’d have in my stomach when I had to tell other people. Cause it was never something clear cut, like I did this action and it was wrong. It was just a slow buildup after I reached the point of what I now realize is burnout and eventually, the employer couldn’t figure out what to do with me.

It’s a weird feeling to think about and even weirder to try to explain. I feel like I did a poor job. Maybe this will need some more reflection.

Tomorrow’s chapter is “Dee”.

I missed my music.

Friday, February 16
  • Book: “The Lilac Bus
  • Chapters: “Dee”
  • Location: Front Porch, at sunset, 30 degrees
  • Smoking: A mish mash
  • Playlist: ‘Rilo Regina Damien’ – a short-ish playlist of songs I can belt at the top of my longs by Rilo Kelly, Regina Spector, Damien Rice and other similar songsters
  • Did I cry? nope, but I did do a lot of singing, y’all.

Welp, my plan today was to not read, because Molls and I are recording our podcast tonight and then Barb is joining us for two more episodes of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. As I was setting everything up outside for my evening ‘garden time’, I liked the way it felt out there, even though it is only 30 degrees and kind of windy.

So, I’m reading and whatever else I was gonna fill my time with is gonna have to wait. Okay? Okay.

My friend Breanna started reading Maeve Binchy for the first time and gave me the greatest compliment ever (which my brain promptly rejected) and told me that my writing reminded her of Maeve. Oh, I should also mention that Breanna also happens to be the only person who doesn’t share my DNA to read any words of ‘Benji SpaghettiHead’.

I couldn’t see it when she said it, but I see it in the chapter. It’s in the way we reveal things, I think. Recognizing it gave me a very warm and happy feeling.

This was the wrong playlist to read to. I spent more time singing than I did reading. Oops.

Saturday, February 17
  • Book: “The Lilac Bus
  • Chapters: “Mikey”
  • Location: Front room, looking out at the twinkle lights on the front stoop – it’s 25 degrees and windy outside
  • Smoking: Whatever is left of the dab I had this afternoon for period pain
  • Playlist: “For All Mankind” Official Playlist
  • Did I cry?
    • Yes, but because of the music, not the book. My brain had wandered away from the words in front of me and was spiraling about something or another. I started my period today, I am in that terrible pre-menopause part that absolutely no one warned us about and my brain is being so mean to me about the dumbest things. I have sort of a handle on it now where I can talk back to brain a bit and, a lot of the times, get it to shut up. I was strugglin’ a bit today, no surprise. Then the ‘good’ part of brain told the other parts to shut up. No, it yelled it! And when all the other voices were quiet, it told me to listen to the song that was playing. Then the tears happened and I got back to reading.

I thought because of the mentionitis in the previous chapter, we’d be seeing the story of Celia today, but I guess Maeve wants to keep me in suspense on the barmaid’s story a bit longer.

Speaking of barmaids, one of my favorite blogs I ever read was on livejournal and it was called “Barmaid Blog”. She was such an engaging writer and I think about what she might be up to nowadays. She hasn’t written in 13 years, but her LJ Link is still live. That might make for some fun bathtub reading memories.

But now onto Mikey!

One of the things Maeve Binchy is excellent at in her writing is giving the characters the opportunity to describe things. Like, right now she has Mikey describing his brother’s family to us and it’s in his voice, not the voice of the rest of the book. It’s a real nice touch.

This chapter got all tied up neatly with a bow. It also made me a bit sad, because it reminded me that, at the heart of it all, we all just want to be accepted as we are. The thing that makes us change bits about ourselves, or not explore fully all of the things that interest, is the fear that ‘If I do this one thing, who’s gonna make fun of me for it. How will doing this thing affect my acceptance by these people I really care about?”

In the instance of this book, both the acceptance and judgement come from the town of Rathdoon. For me in my regular life, it comes in the form of my friends. For a long time, there was a huge imbalance of judgement and acceptance, with the judgement side heavily weighed down, while the acceptance just bopped around in the air, waiting for someone to notice it.

This is where the years of masking and ‘putting up appearances’ got me. Years of being what people wanted me to be, completely ignoring this pretty cool person who was dying to get out.

It’s taken me a long time to get here, to a place where the acceptance from people I love far outweighs the judgement.

Now to get over the part of my brain that is just waiting for the weight of the judgement to fall.

p.s. The above pic is what the copy of this book looked like that I read many times over before my ex-husband made me purge most of my books when we were together. I’m reading this digital and am still actively looking to replace all my hard copies.

p.p.s. Mickey told me since I started this project that we will just buy every single Maeve Binchy book we see while we’re out, so I can lend them out to folks who want to read them. I went and looked at my stash and saw that I had three copies of Quentin’s and that made me happy cry because it is one of my favorites. I’d love to see it turned into a film one day. How do I get the funding for that?

Sunday, February 18

  • Book: “The Lilac Bus
  • Chapters: “Judy”
  • Location: Gonna give the front porch a try at 37 degrees, with 13mph winds which supposedly makes it feel like it is 29
  • Smoking: King Kong, baybee
  • Playlist: “The Americans” Official Soundtrack – A new playlist has entered the arena (i’m really into this show, y’all)
  • Did I cry? I got eye pricks when I realized I was right about Judy Hickey

I have cupcakes in the oven and a blanket on my lap and a gorgeous sunset happening behind me. I’m ready to read.

Okay, I moved my time lapse to the front porch, because the clouds were really puffy out there, and I did my whole reading in the cold tonight. Only came back in to do this writing.

Y’all, Judy Hickey had two secrets. She told them to Rupert during the bus ride to Rathdoon, in a hush whisper so the other passengers wouldn’t hear.

Rupert marveled at what a good storyteller Judy was, which tickled me to no end. Because that is basically just Maeve Binchy giving herself a pat on the back and boy, oh, boy do I wish I had that kind of confidence. She must have known how magical she was, though.

So, I think there was a lesson in this chapter, where Judy revealed her big secrets to Rupert, certain that he knew them both already (he had no idea) and he, along with the rest of the small town, were constantly judging her. Especially considering that she currently worked for a health food store – she was sure the entire town had brander her a witch or similar.

Instead the town found what she did to be noble.

The lesson that I took from that is one that I’ve been working on a lot the past few years. People think about you a lot less than you realize. A lot of that judgement that I’m afraid of simply does not exist in anyone’s mind but my own. I’ve tried to keep that in mind (I need some sort of repeated mantra or something) during the times my brain gets meanest to me.

Okay, so that’s the reading for this week. I feel like this one is going fast. Maybe I’ll be done next week.

Okay maybe not. I just checked and I am only a quarter of the way through. Hmm. I thought it would just be a chapter about each person. Now, I’m intrigued.


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