Shopping While Not Paying is Bliss

Today I dropped my teenaged daughter off at the salon for her hair appointment. After ensuring that she was clear on her percents so that she wouldn’t again overpay the tip, I zipped off to my mother’s house for a visit. This was an expense SHE was incurring. Yippee!

Less than two hours later, I returned to collect her and we headed to the mall for a homecoming dress. But (the but is everything) the dress was on her! Her dad and I aren’t total misers. We brought her dress and all the accoutrements in previous years, but she has a part time job. Now back to the bliss…we walked into the dress shop, and after trying on a mere 4 dresses, she found the one, a frilly black strapless number embroidered with jewels that sparkled like the aurora borealis. This is fitting for the “Out of this World” dance theme. After she bought the dress (with HER debit card), she wanted to go to another store for an unrelated purchase.

After that last purchase (of hers), we headed home. The reality of it all finally set in for her when she took a gander at her bank balance. She’d spent her own money on two of the biggest items for the dance. I was able to talk her down from raiding her savings to get her balance back up to what she thought was an acceptable amount. “I feel broke, Mom,” she said. For me, however, it was bliss, at least for those couple of hours.

Book Review: Terms and Conditions: A Novel* by Robert Glancy

Terms and ConditionsThere are no new stories*

*The same stories are told in different ways.

This is surely the case with Robert Glancy’s, Terms and Conditions. Man is disenchanted with life so he grasps at a second chance.

His novel kept me turning pages because of the form in which he told this story very familiar story.* Every page is like a contract (The Terms and Conditions of X) with copious amounts of illuminating fine print in the form of hilarious and at times poignant footnotes.

The story is not a new one. In fact, it is reminiscent of the movie version of James Thurber’s, Walter Mitty, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. Frankly Shaw is definitely a Walter Mitty type of guy whose life comes in dribs and drabs because of his loveless marriage and meaningless job as a lawyer who writes the terms and conditions (fine print). Apologies in advance for any spoilers. When we meet Franklyn, he has amnesia as a result of a terrible accident the cause of which is a mystery. We don’t know that his job is meaningless or his marriage is loveless because he doesn’t. The journey to his “hypermnesia” and how he resolves his blah life is suspenseful, funny, and filled with enough poignant ‘aha’ moments to catapult the reader into his or her own sort of self-actualization, I think.

I enjoyed the time jumping which helped to enhance the suspense. It gave me a fuller view of Frank and his relationship to his wife, family, and co-workers. We get to know Malcolm, his brother, primarily through e-mails, but he looms large. The villains are even likable to a point, but I cheered when Frank triumphed in the end. I must admit wanting to read the scene where he confronted Sandra, his wife’s estranged best friend.

Read this book. The only terms and conditions are that you should prepare to be entertained with a keen desire to read every footnote.

Book Review: Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

exclamationmarkPair self-actualization with punctuation and you can’t go wrong, right? Right!

I absolutely loved this coming of age story for the punctuation mark, exclamation mark, who doesn’t quite fit in with his family full of periods. He sticks out–literally–except when he is sleeping. He tries to hide what makes him different but it just doesn’t work. He even contemplates running away. Then out of nowhere this other strange looking thing appears–a question mark who knows its purpose–and starts asking the exclamation mark a plethora of questions. After it asks the 17th question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, exclamation mark screams as only he can, “STOP!” And then…it happens, the exclamation mark realizes his exclamatory gift! He starts to try it out. He shares it with others.  “It was like he broke free from a life sentence,” said the narrator. This is one of many clever instances of word play in the book. And thus the story ends, happily.  It goes off to “make his mark.”

This is an excellent choice for a mini lesson during grammar and writing time when teaching punctuation marks and the affect different ones have on sentences. Of course, there are many other ways to use this book in addition to reading it for the fun of it.  I’d love to read sequels with the other punctuation marks. The sky is the limit!