Up & Coming Weekly

April 28, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 15 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM APRIL 29-MAY 5, 2020 UCW 15 OPINION Changed for the better by LAURA BOARTS Life's been weird, right? I don't know how else to start this article. What do you say? What is there left to say? I don't even want to really talk about it any more, if I'm being honest. Quarantine has been weird; social distancing has been weird. The world — the literal whole world — being shut down has been weird. I guess since this is being published, I should use a 50-cent word and say its "unprecedented," but let's be real. This. Has. Been. Weird. And heartbreaking. Devastating. Frustrating. Intimidating. Scary. There will most likely never be another time in our generation — so we pray — where doing absolutely nothing can help save the world. In a society that is used to things changing in an instant, we've gone from moving a hundred miles an hour to moving at a snail's pace as we've waited for COVID-19 to pass us by. Waiting is not our strong suit. We've lived seemingly invincibly for so long, thinking nothing will touch us here in America — no wars on our turf, no major catastro- phes, no major economic downfall — yet here we are, stuck with the great equalizer — rich or poor, tall or short, young or old, no one is immune. For me, it has been a break. I've been very fortunate to have the privilege to work from home, and my husband has been able to continue his job. My son has been at home with me instead of daycare, and my dog now favors me over my husband because I get to take her outside so much more and give her treats. For me, it is a big win. For others, this pandemic has hit them hard — so hard, they may not recover for a long while, which brings me back to my first thought. What do you even say? Just one piece of dumb advice, if you haven't done it already — don't cut yourself quarantine bangs. Put down the scissors, Judy. It just isn't worth it. You'll end up looking like you feel and right now — that is, unreliable. Just wait for your stylist or barber, not that I know from experi- ence. Dear God, help me. But on a more serious note, I had a realization in all of this that I don't want this not to change me. I want to remember and honor the elderly. I want to remember that everyone is going through something, so I mind my words and my impatience. I want to spend more time at home. I want to spend less money on nonessen- tials. I want to cook more at home. I want to remember that whether I realize it at the time or not, my actions do affect the people around me, even people I don't know. I want to remember that just because someone is famous, it doesn't make them a hero, and that advertising and Hollywood don't own me. I want to remember what it's like not to hug my family so I'll never pull away or take another hug for granted. What is normal anyway? Whatever it is, it's overrated, overexpected and just plain over. I'm done with nor- mal. I want keep some of this weird- ness and be changed for the better. LITERATURE A cure for the isolation and a troubled marriage by D.G. MARTIN What is the big news in North Carolina? For some, it is not the bad news that the coronavirus has shut us up in our homes for weeks and weeks and undercut the economic lives of so many. It is, instead, the good news that, starting April 21 with the release of Lee Smith's latest book, "Blue Marlin," there will be something to ease the discomfort of our confinement. "Blue Marlin" is short, about 120 pages, each filled with Smith's warm and sympathetic storytelling gifts and characters who reach out and remind us of people we knew growing up. Smith confesses in an afterword that for all the stories she has ever written, "this one is dearest to me, capturing the essence of my own childhood — the kind of unruly, spoiled only child I was; the sweet- ness of my troubled parents, and the magic essence of Key West, ever since January 1959, when these events actually occurred." Smith then explains that not all the events in her book happened. The book, she says, is "autobio- graphical fiction, with the emphasis on fiction." She explains, "I can tell the truth better in fiction than nonfiction." In the book, the "Lee Smith-like" character, Jenny, age 13, discovers her small-town lawyer dad — think Atticus Finch — is having an affair. Soon everybody in town knows. Her dad moves out of their home. Her depressed mom seeks treatment at a hospital in Asheville. Jenny is sent to stay with her mom's cousin Glenda in South Carolina. Jenny fights this placement. Glenda is tough and deeply and out-front religious. Soon Jenny feels at home, adjusting and then thriving under Glenda's no- nonsense orderliness. Meanwhile, her parents decide to try to put their marriage back together on a trip to Key West. When they pick up Jenny at Glenda's, Jenny brings a white New Testament that Glenda gave her, a necklace with a cross that Jenny stole from Glenda's daughter and a growing interest in Jesus and boys. Riding to Key West in the back seat of her dad's new Cadillac, Jenny begins a list of good deeds she will do on each day of their monthly trip "which ought to be enough," she thought, "to bring even Mama and Daddy back together." But the question is, will the time in Key West do the job? Things get off to a good start. Their hotel, the Blue Marlin, is a positive, not just because of its swimming pool and water slide. The motel is full of a movie crew, including actor Tony Curtis. "Mama and I were crazy about Tony Curtis," says Jenny. Both were big movie fans and read the fan magazines together. About Curtis, they "squealed together." Then they learn Cary Grant is part of the mov- ie's cast, and things are off to a good start. Jenny settles into Key West. She walks the streets, visits the old Catholic church, reads the texts in the graveyard, gets to know a group of strippers, and does her good deeds every day. Still she asks whether they were working. "My parents were endlessly cordial to each other now, but so far they had never slept in the same bed. I knew this for a fact. I checked their room every morning." To find out whether Tony Curtis's help and Jenny's good deeds can bring about real marital reconcilia- tion, you will have to read the book. But, here is a clue from Smith's afterword. After the real trip to Key West to help her real parents' trou- bled marriage, Smith writes that the Key West cure worked. "Mama and Daddy would go home refreshed, and stay married for the rest of their lives." D.G. MARTIN, Host of UNC's Book Watch. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. Things are weird, but don't cut your own quarantine bangs. LAURA BOARTS, Music Director, WCLN. Comments? Editor@upandcomingweekly. com. 910-484-6200.

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