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Staying Still and ReadingMay 15, 2012

Staying still is so hard for me. I mean, damn. I was diagnosed as hyperactive as a child (and today I do think that I'm ADHD, but I'm one of those people for whom it works -- I harness that energy, and I've learned how to make it work for me. Even if it means I never, ever, ever sit still). 

So this recovery game? Is so freaking hard. 

Yesterday, I took a shower (this is not the punchline -- I take showers all the time, I promise). To me, a shower is a get-in, get-clean exercise in timing. Four minutes, including shampoo, all the bits clean, and I'm out. I simply do not understand how or why people like showers -- they've always felt like something to be borne. Shower, brush teeth, eyeliner, mascara, deodorant, DONE. I can be out of the house without feeling rushed twenty minutes after the alarm goes off. 

But yesterday, I decided to try that whole slow shower thing (plus I've had no choice lately. I just can't move quickly). I stood under the water, letting it warm me. I thought about how it felt, standing there. It didn't suck. Actually, after about ten minutes, I was kind of enjoying it. I zoned out. It really was relaxing. I wasn't hurrying. No wonder lots of people say they get their best ideas in the shower (I've always wondered when this happened -- between the shampoo and the conditioner? Before or after leg shaving?). I wasn't thinking about the next item on the To Do list. I was just kind of hanging out. Being.

That's not to say it's going to turn into a lifestyle thing. I do like a wham-bam shower. But after exhausting myself a couple of times this week (who knew just sitting UP could be so difficult?), I've learned my lesson. Now is the resting time. 

Luckily, it's also the reading time! 

I'm telling you about this now even though I'm only a quarter of the way into it, because it's been a long time since I fell so hard for a book. The River Witch, by Kimberly Brock. Within the first few pages I was googling Sacred Harp singing because by the way she was writing about it, I knew it would be something real and something peculiar. Which it is (see video below). And her language! Unique, rich, devastating. Just download the sample -- chances are you'll fall in love as I did. And this, by the way, is a little intro to the Sacred Harp singing (also known as "shape note singing"): 



I just finished A.J. Jacob's Drop Dead Healthy, which is my favorite of all his books. I can't imagine living with the man (his wife needs a raise), but I love the way his mind works. Once he wrote a book about the year he spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica. For another book, he tried living Biblically for a year. Literally. For this new book, he spends two years becoming "the healthiest man in America." He tries every diet and every health regime touted by anyone, anywhere. He does cleanses, yoga, meditation, barefoot running, and a triathlon. He does veganism and Paleo. He spends two years not eating his kids' birthday cupcakes. And his humor is so funny and affecting that I'm reconsidering the treadmill desk again. 

Ali in Wonderland, Ali Wentworth: a memoir, this one caught me from the first essay. Sometimes it made me shake with laughter (my belly hurt too much to howl). I don't regret reading it -- she's smart and her sense of humor is wickedly, devastatingly funny. However, I think she would have benefited from a firmer editing hand. Some of the essays are so good...and then kaput. They clatter to the floor like a dropped spoon. But overall, worthwhile. 

Um. I've read others, but nothing you have to read, so I'll leave it at this reiteration: this whole post was prompted by my belief that you should absolutely check out The River Witch. I'm beyond impressed so far. The woman can write.


Isn't "The River Witch" so freakin' good you want to scream? And I got to edit it. Ha! Lest anyone wonder why I like editing--books like this. The first thing I did when I got the ms was google Sacred Harp singing, too. Amazing music. Powerful. Like Kim's book. I'm so glad you love it.

I agree that it is difficult to slow down. But take the time and recuperate. Thank you for the recommendation of THE RIVER WITCH. I watched the AWAKE MY SOUL video & had to google Sacred Harp to see/hear/learn more. How is it a gal raised in deep East Texas (the buckle of the Bible Belt) never heard of Sacred Harp music? I was enthralled and have downloaded the book to my Kindle. It's been said many times, but once more won't hurt: Get. Well. Soon.

I read the Jacobs book about living Biblically. I totally agree about his wife. Totes. Am going to check out The River Witch now . . .

There must be a place around here for Sacred Harp singing. I want to hear it in person, if not join in.

Did you see there is a giveaway of The River Witch going on over at goodreads?

Aw, this is so special to me to find readers (and my fantabulous editor!!) talking about my little book. I'm delighted you're enjoying the story!

And yep, I'm on Goodreads for a Q&A (drop by and I'll tell you STUFF) here: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/69903-q-a-with-kimberly-brock

And there's a Giveaway here:

Thank you so much for this! What a treat!

Shape note singing (often using The Sacred Harp, though there are other books out there) is a lot of fun. I really enjoy both the sound and the fact that it's a way to get together and sing with people without any emphasis on performance. Here's a list of local singings: http://fasola.org/singings/

I've been to the Berkeley Sacred Harp group: http://fasola.org/bayarea/schedules-locations/index.html#ucb
and highly recommend it. Third Mondays are set aside for beginners!

Love, love, love that you recommend books - and that I like so much of what you read. Thank you!

Ha. You know, I do love a slow, hot shower, but *also* I see them as mostly tedious chores. I can also do a 4min shower without even trying (although these days I'm getting heavily into the lotions and potions afterwards, so the whole process does take rather longer than it used to). But my huzbeast is incapable. Completely incapable. It's bizarre. I don't know what he does in there, I just know that if he says he's heading to the shower, I won't see him for half an hour, easy. Even when we really need to hurry. So weird. (Enjoying a long shower? Sure. Not being able to cut it short? WEIRD.)

I've been looking forward to reading Drop Dead Healthy for a while now! He had a great article in Esquire about the month when he experimented with outsourcing:


Thank you for mentioning Shape Note singing. It's energetic, uplifting, and happy-making - sung with enthusiasm and full voice. There's a weekly 'sing' in Northampton (home of WEBS & Smith College) - we were able to attend on a recent trip to New England. What fun! Glad to hear you're making progress - please give yourself at least 6 weeks to heal, even if you FEEL 'back to normal' sooner.

I used to go to shape note singings. Even though I grew up in middle Georgia, it had never featured in any church I went to when I was growing up. I found it elsewhere. :)

What impressed me back in the 80's, when I went to most of the singings, was how inclusive the folks were! I'd come riding up on my motorcycle, get off, and go in to sing, and they welcomed me. They'll invite you to get up and lead a song even if you don't know what you're doing. I'd just watch the (usually) old guy in front who was the de facto leader, and follow what he did. It was awesome.

It's often not "musical", like choir singing, but it's a bunch of folks just singing their hearts out at the top of their voices. I still love it, though I don't get to many singings any more. :( But an all-day singing and dinner on the grounds was the best. :)

Can I just say how much I love that you do book tips, with Amazon links to boot? One-click-buy for the Kindle means I also occasionally curse you, but eh.

The best piece of advice I read before my hysterectomy is: "You only have one chance to heal well." Which means not stressing the incision (creating keloids and other nasty issues). And it means not stressing your body. It's already got all available crews busy fixing things. Of course if I forgot, my body wasn't shy about reminding me to take it easy. I still miss the 2 PM nap attacks, seven years later.

Hope you're feeling better soon!

I'm one of your many lurkers...and you wrote something that has me emerging from behind the curtain...Sacred Harp singing....OMG! I never heard of this artform until I saw the movie Cold Mountain and then I couldn't get enough of it! Like you, I spent time hunting down links on the internet and then finally I found people who belong to a sacred harp choir. I wish I could sing, because this is the genre I'd embrace. Keep getting better and don't hurry it.

As one of your readers who has had this surgery, and fully supports and encourages any woman who needs it,the recovery is not the part we tend to discuss. So many lovely people stepped up to assist during my recovery and I adore each of them, however, I just wanted everyone to go home, so I could shower,vacum, be normal(?).... my way. The surgery didnt do anything for the OCD issue....This part will just be a memory...soon.
Any reports on "The Tiger's Wife" or "The Dovekeepers"?

Oh, Rachael! Heal well! Take ultra good care of yo'self! So glad you have Lala & sisters! Had NO idea you were under a carver...YIKES!!! Computer has had some issues, including e-mail, for months. Calling Ben's Computer in Grover Beach tomorrow to see if I can get an appointment for laptop, printer, Verizon mifi & me, to get us all working before I leave for Eastern Sierra. Emily just had a hysterectomy. Oh my, my, my. Well, we have a new e-mail address, please note.
A happy mental picture for you: We've adopted nine baby chicks, & three more are to come, June 5! They're three Golden Laced Wyandottes, six Egyptian Fayoumis, & three Pearl Guineas! All of us send love & get well wishes to you!

Thank you so much for suggesting the novel River Witch. I spent a lovely sunny Saturday enjoying both the book and the weather. Hope you are feeling better and stronger!

rose Kelly, a fan.

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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