Thursday, September 2, 2010

Living in Bizarro World

JSF, looking quite presidential.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I never tell the long story short, but I’m going to try my best on this one (and then I’ll tell the long story long later).
Scott got home from a 25-day trip, and through some stroke of luck got to enjoy his post-mission crew rest.  (For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it means he got four days off when he got home.)  This is supposed to be standard operating procedure, but in our time in the C-17 community, I’m not sure that Scott has ever ACTUALLY taken a full crew rest.  There have been times when he went out on three-week trips, was home for three days (working in the office) and then left again for another three-week trip.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  His original plan this time was to take off two of the four days (to appease his whining wife) and then go into the office for the remainder of his crew rest.  On the second day, his phone rang, and someone (I suspect an alien from the Twilight Zone) told him to go ahead and take his allotted time because they had things covered.
I honestly didn’t believe it when I heard it.  I was waiting for the catch, anticipating something like, “but I have to deploy next week for two months” or “but I have to sell my right arm.”  But there was no catch.  The Air Force gods were smiling upon us.
Fifteen minutes after Scott received that phone call, I got a message on FB from one of my friends:
“I know it's quite a drive (not to mention you've probs already met him) but Jonathan Safran Foer is going to be meeting fans in Atlanta tomorrow night. You should obvs be there. I can forward you the details when I get home...if you're interested.”
Um, I’m sorry, what?  I think I read that wrong.  Nope.  It definitely says that Jonathan Safran Foer would be speaking in Atlanta the next day.  I googled it immediately and found this to not be pure rumor.  Scott’s first reaction was, “Let’s go!”  To which, I replied, “Will is in school now.”  (These are the things you have to remind your husband of when he’s gone all the time.)
His second reaction was, “Well, then, you go.”
Words.  Can not.  Express.
So, I know some of you are like, “Big flipping deal!  Who the hell is Jonathan Safran Foer?”  Let me put it this way.  If my dad could meet and spend just one minute with someone, it would probably be Mickey Mantle.  But he’s dead.  So, if given the chance, he’d probably meet Derek Jeter.  
Jonathan Safran Foer is my Derek Jeter.  (I wouldn’t mind meeting that guy either.)  I mean, if William Faulkner wasn’t dead, he’d get the seat next to me at dinner, but since he is, scoot on over, JSF!
There are a few books I’ve read that weren’t just good books.  They were books that LITERALLY altered my perspective on life and affect the way I think, feel, and write.  Here are just a few in no particular order:

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Jester
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
Kissing the Virgin’s Mouth by Donna Gershten
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
The Worship God Is Seeking by David Ruis
(If you’re looking for a good book to read, don’t start with Dostoevsky or Conrad.)  So, here’s the deal.  Most of those books were written decades, some even more than a century, before I was even alive.  Some have been written during my lifetime but by people ten, twenty, thirty years my senior.
JSF is three years older than me, and he’s already written three books that have impacted my life in immeasurable ways.  Here are some direct quotations from his books.  If you don’t want to read them after reading these, consider yourself unfriended.
From Everything Is Illuminated:
“He knew that I love you also means I love you more than anyone loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that no one loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that I love no one else, and never have loved anyone else, and never will love anyone else.”
“One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be family.”

From Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close:
What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? When you skateboarded down the street at night you could hear everyone's heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone's hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which I know about, but don't really want to know about. That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn't have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. And at the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon it would sound like war.”
“The mistakes I’ve made are dead to me.  But I can’t take back the things I never did.”
“He wrote, I do not know how to live.
I do not know either, but I am trying.
I do not know how to try.
There were things I wanted to tell him.  But I knew they would hurt him.  So I buried them, and let them hurt me.”
From Eating Animals:
“When I was young, I would often spend the weekend at my grandmother’s house.  On the way in, Friday night, she would lift me from the ground in one of her fire-smothering hugs.  And on the way out, Sunday afternoon, I was again taken into the air.   It wasn’t until years later that I realized she was weighing me.”
“Americans choose to eat less than .25% of the known edible food on the planet.” (That number is not a typo.)
“This story didn’t begin as a book.  I simply wanted to know--for myself and my family--what meat is...upwards of 99% of all animals eaten in this country come from “factory farms”...”
Before I left, Scott asked (only somewhat jokingly), “He’s not on your freebie five, is he?”  My answer was two-part.  A) No, but if the list was just slightly longer, he might get in on the brain card, and B) I don’t want to sleep with him--I just want to sit in his presence and hope that his genius wears off on me.
(Side note: JSF is married to the indomitably talented and stunning Nicole Krauss, author of The History of Love and Man Walks Into a Room, two more novels you need to pick up immediately after shutting down your browser and turning off your computer.  They are the David and Victoria Beckham of the literary world.)
So, I packed a bag, booked a hotel, and drove to Atlanta this morning, armed with JSF’s three books, determined to get him to sign them and take a picture with me so I would have proof of being with greatness.  Mission accomplished.  (So very tired.  Must go to sleep.  More details tomorrow.)

This is what I like to call my ridiculous giddy grin.  Sheesh.


  1. Ok Ok Ok. I am going to read one of the books. The sinker for me was that the list you made above contains like almost every single one of my favorite books (except selections from Jane Austen). I am forced to trust you now. HA.

  2. It was so awesome to meet you last night!! I hope you have a safe trip home. Also, now I have more books to add to my reading list!

  3. @Jaime, Jane Austen should have been somewhere on there, too.

    @Amy, so nice to meet you, too! I owe you a picture. (Don't tell anyone, but I haven't unpacked my bags to get your card out with your email address, but I will do it soon!)

  4. I'm quitting my job to read for the rest of my life. I've read and loved most of the books on the list. So many books. So little time.