SBG daily ~ Right Place, Right Time

SBG coverBusy busy busy!  I’ve just hooked up my new birthday computer and ordered Pizza Hut for supper.  My hands were filthy from all the dust bunnies that had collected in the old computer and under all the snakes (wires).  I took off the cover on the old tower and cleaned all the dust and fuzz out of it, which must’ve been at least an inch thick.  Maybe that’s why it was running slow?  THIS is the first post written on my new computer, and I must say YAY!! 🙂

So, today’s Something Beyond Greatness daily post is a continuation of yesterdays, or rather, an expounding of it.  In the book, the authors give a formula for greatness.  One part is the ability to see with love, to see the person you’re helping as a person belonging to you in some way.  For instance, when you see the commercial of the child scrounging through the garbage for dinner, do you see a child who needs help and are moved to do something?  Or, and this is the category I fall in, do you see a camera crew who has dinners provided, a host trying to convince you to send him (or her) money so they can “help” them (they’ll give a kid a sandwich, and take the rest of the money to Rio, I bet).  Okay, so the commercials don’t work on me, but I help the missions at church and “adopted” a child or two in Uganda and Brazil.

A second part of the equation is what I talked about yesterday, Instrument Consciousness.  Being open and willing to be used to do a kind act.  I ran into the house, even though it was on fire, and pushed the people out the door.  The third part is that of Destiny, fate, or the design of the supreme being, God’s Will.  Being in the right place at the right time.  This is the part we’re discussing today.  It’s this part that’s the most humbling of the process and what makes a person an instrument and NOT a hero.

For a long time, and even now, so many things about that night just leaves me in awe… not of what I did, but of the odds that I was even able to help.   First off, I was on the phone with my mom at that time of night, because the cell service I had provided free calls after 9 at night.  That particular night, I was even later than normal to call because the kids were late to bed.  Normally, I would have been inside and in bed by then.  I was outside on the porch talking because I have a weird Bermuda cell zone in my house and I had to go outside to get reception.  I had moved my chair to where I was sitting because the door we had been using (our house has 2 front doors) had gotten stuck in the frame and we couldn’t use it and I had slid the lawn chair in front of the stuck door. 

Now, all that put me in the right spot on my front porch to see the glow of the fire between the houses across from me.  Six inches either way, and I would’ve only seen the houses.  AND it put me on the porch at the right time to have seen it.  Add to it that I’m nosy by nature and HAD to check out the weird light, and I was in the right place at the right time.

Now, at that time of night, the neighbors hadn’t noticed because first shift workers were in bed and those on the second shift were still at work and wouldn’t have seen it for another hour at least.  So, if I hadn’t been in that exact spot on my porch at that time, the kids whose bedrooms were on the second floor would’ve been overcome by smoke and possibly died, if they had had to wait for second-shifters to come home and call 911.

It’s all the what ifs and maybes, the overwhelming amount of coincidences (if you believe in coincidences like that) that humble me and leave me in awe.  I wasn’t a hero.  I was in the right place at the right time and I had no choice, I had to act.  I had to help.  To choose to walk away would’ve been unthinkable.  The lady hugged me and cried and held on to me for a good fifteen minutes.  In the end, there was no mention of me in the papers, no ceremony or parade in my honor.  I think the firemen who do that sort of thing ON PURPOSE as a career are real heroes.  The people going UP the stairs on September 11, 2001 while everyone was going down, away from the blazing, steel-warping inferno… those people are heroes.  People who join the military to protect their county and help to bring freedom to others, they are the real heroes.

So, has there ever been a time where you were in the right place at the right time to help someone?

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Something Beyond Greatness, and comment here for an extra entry

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Tan Lines by J. J. Salem

Title: Tan Lines
Author: J. J. Salem
Hardcover: 306 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publish Date: July 8, 2008
ISBN: 9780312374150

Normally, I like to start my reviews with a quote from the book. However, I think you’ll enjoy this video of Tan Lines’ first line the good people of St. Martins press has posted over at YouTube.

So with a first line like that, you’d think this book would definitely be a fun and steamy summer read, right?

Well, it’s definitely steamy. If you took all the sex out of it, Tan Lineswould probably be whittled down from the 306 pages to 220. AND, if you took out the drinking and doping, you’d be further reduced to about 190 pages (it would have been even less, but some of the drinking and doping is mixed in with the sex). Then, if you took out all the who’s wearing what designers clothes, shoes and undies… Undies, for cry-yi-yi! One line says Kellyanne stripped down to her La Perlas, I thought it was some new slang for being naked. Turns out La Perla is designer underwear… So taking out all fashion apparel text, it’s down to about 165 pages. Now, take out the name dropping, the “Kelly Ripa was at the table next to them” and “Mathew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker was leaving as they were going in”, and the book would be cut down to about 158 pages.

With almost half of the original text cut, what is left? One hell of a story, to be honest. It could almost be a joke, or a Reality TV series: What happens when you take Hillary Clinton, Courtney Love, and Elizabeth Hasselbeck to the Hamptons to share the same house for the summer? That is kinda-sorta the premise of Tan Lines.

Of course that’s not enough to make a book, J. J. Salem (who is a guy by-the-by) adds Liza’s stalker, Kellyanne’s cruelly possessive sugar daddy, a closet party-guy neocon who’s hanging from the chandeliers on coked out benders with Billie while being engaged to a frosty-queen old money deb, Liza’s shiftless leach of a fireman husband who Liza believes is cheating (what’s really going on with his is a complete blindside), and several other characters hear and there that wouldn’t be a stretch to see killing one, or all, of the three.

Revealing that one, or all, of the characters will die is not a spoiler, by the way, because the prologue says: “…the way those girls had been in the beginning, before everything had gone so wrong.” and that the condo owner is remodelling because “she could not look at those ghastly bloodstains one more day.

Reviewing Tan Lines, for me, is an exercise in schitzoprhenic writing. On the one hand, I could seriously done without all the sex. Really. I learned things reading this book I had never heard of before, and I scored 36.6% on the purity test! Booty bumps and bleached bungholes were completely new concepts to me. After a while, Tan Lines’ sexual content had the same effect as the nude tribesmen in the National Geographic specials -after 20 minutes, you stop seeing their nakedness. Also, I really could have lived without all the drinking and drugs. AND I don’t care that much about fashion and designers.

But, on the other hand, I thought Salem’s writing is quite effective, his plot development compelling, and the twists and turns he throws in completely disarming. He is an exceptional storyteller, and his characters are very human -even if most are the dregs of society.

The ending was quite a surprise. For one, it was beautifully happy and fair. Second, it was inevitable. and Third, it was all of a sudden and shocking… and I just didn’t get why it couldn’t have been the rock star! It sucks, and it wasn’t fair.

There are some really wonderfully sweet scenes, as well. Liza’s blossoming relationship with her arch nemesis and Kellyanne’s realization that she’s more valuable than being some nasty old man’s sperm receptacle. When it comes to Billie, unfortunately the only epiphanies had are those of the people around her deciding she’s a lost cause and they’re better off exorcising her from their lives.

I would definitely say this book is an X rated book, but not erotica. It’s graphic and explicit, full of foul language, alcohol, and drugs… even forced sex on a couple occasions. It is NOT the book for the Christian Women’s book club. I probably wouldn’t even recommend Tan Lines to me. But I would have to say it’s a great read, very compelling, and sticks with you for a while… for better or worse.

Overall, I’m giving Tan Lines 4/5 stars.