Sunday, March 08, 2015

Nothing to Be Frightened Of

I know it's crazy for someone from Houston to whine about the winter weather...but I. Am. Sick. Of. It.  It's about 43 degrees out there today, but throw in a steady rain, and it's miserable for all concerned.  I made a quick grocery-run for my elderly father this morning, and now that I'm home, I don't intend to go back out there for any reason.

Yesterday was a much better day.  I think the high was probably in the mid-fifties, and even though it was very cloudy and overcast all day, we got no rain.  But the best part of the day for me, was that I spent it in Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros home ballpark) where the city's annual College Classic is taking place this weekend.  

Imagine this, baseball fans: sitting in a major league ballpark all day long, along with about 15,000 other fans, and watching three college games in succession.  I walked in at noon and left just after ten p.m...ten hours of baseball with only two 40-minute breaks between games.  That's what baseball fans imagine heaven to be.

Just for the record, these are the games played yesterday:

Nebraska 4 - Hawaii 3
LSU 2 - Baylor 0
Texas A&M 6 - Houston 0

Now, to Julian Barnes and reading:

The breaks did give me a little reading time so, after grabbing some ballpark food, I found a quiet corner and settled in with Julian Barnes's fascinating 2008 memoir, Nothing to Be Frightened Of.  Knopf, the publisher, characterizes this one as "a memoir on mortality that touches on faith and science and family as well as a rich array of exemplary figures who over the centuries have confronted the same questions he now poses about the most basic fact of life: its inevitable extinction."

Along the way, Barnes (an agnostic) compares the way that his religious friends view death, and live their lives as they get older, to the way that his nonreligious friends do it.  And, honestly, he does not see a great difference between the two groups.  Barnes is frank about his own views and fears about dying, and gives the reader plenty to think about (especially those of us who are about his age).  Sounds cheerful, doesn't it.  I was tempted to discard it at about page 40, but decided to push through that barrier, and I'm glad I did.  This is turning into one of the better books I've read so far this year, in fact.  It's probably not for everyone, but I'm impressed with both the writing and the


  1. Weather is all a matter of perspective. Yesterday around noon it was about 45 and sunny outside, I turned off my furnace and opened a window and spent about half an hour on my deck without a coat filling seed starting pots and planting seeds. Mid-fifties is barefoot and t-shirt weather!

    I've heard good things about this particular Barnes book.

    1. Very true about the weather vs. perspective, Stefanie. The low we've had so far this winter up on the north side of Houston is something like 28 degrees. What has made this winter painful is the constant cloud cover and a whole lot more rain than we usually get in the winter. That combination of humidity and low temperatures hits me right in the bones.

      I finished the Barnes book this afternoon, and really liked it. Lots and lots to think about as a result of reading this one. I was most surprised by Barnes's sense of humor and how he zapped himself every so often with it.