Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do: A Novel

Paperback | April 2, 2004

byPearl Cleage

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With the unique blend of truth and humor that made her first novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day . . ., a huge bestseller, Pearl Cleage returns with an extraordinary novel that is rich in character, steeped in sisterhood, and bursting with unexpected love . . . and maybe just a little magic.

Depending on the time of day, Regina Burns is a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown or an overdue breakthrough. One shattered heart and six months of rehab have left her wary and shell-shocked—especially with the prospect of taking a temporary consulting job in Atlanta, a move that would allow Regina to rescue the family home that she borrowed against when she was “a stomp down dope fiend.” Her stone-faced banker has grudgingly agreed to give her sixty days to settle her debts or lose the house.

Returning to Atlanta is a big risk. Last time Regina was there, she lost track of who she was and what she wanted. There’s a lot of emotional baggage with her new employer, Beth Davis. Can she really forgive Beth for breaking up her wedding plans on New Year’s Eve because she just didn’t think Regina was good enough to marry her son?

Meanwhile, Regina’s visionary Aunt Abbie has told her to be on the lookout for a handsome stranger with “the ocean in his eyes” who has a bone to pick and a promise to keep. Then a blue-eyed brother appears on the streets of Afro-Atlanta wearing a black cashmere overcoat, flashing a dazzling smile, and lending a helping hand when Regina needs it most. But between falling for Blue Hamilton and dealing with Beth, secrets will emerge that will threaten to send her life twisting in surprising new directions.

Like a conversation with a good friend, Some Things I Never Thought I’d Do shares hope, love, and laugher. As always, it is Pearl Cleage’s unforgettable characters and her gift for dialogue that will earn this provocative new novel a place in the hearts of her growing family of readers.

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From the Publisher

With the unique blend of truth and humor that made her first novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day . . ., a huge bestseller, Pearl Cleage returns with an extraordinary novel that is rich in character, steeped in sisterhood, and bursting with unexpected love . . . and maybe just a little magic. Depending on the time of day, Re...

From the Jacket

“Cleage writes with amazing grace and killer instinct.”--The New York Times“A playful, joy-filled novel, shot with…humor and engaging, life-loving characters.”–Los Angeles Times “Pearl Cleage deftly balanc[es] complex social issues with a warm narrative voice…SOME THINGS I NEVER THOUGHT I’D DO won’t disappoint.”--Essence”[SOME THINGS I...

Pearl Cleage is the author of Mad at Miles: A Black Woman’s Guide to Truth, Deals with the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot, and her bestselling debut novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day.... An accomplished dramatist, her plays include Flyin’ West and Blues for an Alabama Sky. Ms. Cleage lives in Atlanta with her husband.T...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.7 inPublished:April 2, 2004Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345478266

ISBN - 13:9780345478269

Customer Reviews of Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do: A Novel

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1I have really screwed up now. This man is actually sitting behind that great big desk telling me he’s going to take my house. The house I was born in! The house my mother was born in! He must be crazy.I know I’m the one who borrowed against it. I know I’m the one who didn’t make the payments on time. I know all that. That’s the first thing they teach you in rehab, to accept responsibility for the stuff you did when you were a stomp-down dope fiend, and I do, but I never thought they would actually take the house. What good is trying to reform if you have to spend the rest of your life paying for the stupid things you did when you still got high and didn’t give a damn?Of course, I don’t say all that to this little weasel-faced white man who probably has no life at all outside of this windowless office where he gets to bring up your file on his computer and then swivel it around so you can see all those missed payments and bounced checks, daring you to deny them.He clearly does not want to hear my tale of woe. Having your heart broken and thinking cocaine can fix it does not qualify as an appropriate topic for discussion with your banker. I know this from experience, so I skip the explanations and start right in on the serious begging.Please, I say, I’m okay now. I just got a good job. I’ll have enough to bring everything current if you can just give me a little more time.He ignores me. He’s heard all this before. He knows the house has been in our family for three generations. He knows I was born there. He knows my grandparents got married there. He knows it is more than a house. That it is an essential part of our family history, our memories, our dreams. He knows it is a sacred trust passed from one woman in our family, to the next one, and the next one, and, finally, to me.He knows all this because I have told him many times. I want him to understand that losing this place is not an option. I’m not going to greet my mama in paradise and tell her I snorted up her mama’s house because I wanted a man who didn’t want me. If I tell her that, I’ll have to tell her that during that same amazing eighteen months, I also lost my credibility as a journalist by sleeping with all the edi- tors I wasn’t doing drugs with, missing deadlines like it was a sport, and, in the last few months before I finally went into rehab, behaving badly at several important Washington social events, culminating in the unforgettable evening when I cussed out a congressman, spilled a drink on his wife, and wrecked my car all in one forty-five-minute period.But that was then. This is now. I’ve been clean for almost six months, and as soon as I get paid from this new job, I’ll pay the weasel what I owe and he can go swivel his screen at some other poor fool. All I need is a ninety-day extension. Just three months, I hear myself still begging. I’ll be able to bring everything current. I promise!The weasel raises his eyebrows to let me know he doesn’t buy it for one second. He glances down at the screen again, and I mentally prepare myself to segue from begging to groveling. I’m ready to roll around on the floor and tear my hair, if that’s what it takes. I’m the one who messed everything up, but I’m also the one who is going to make it right. Starting with this house.The weasel is still staring at the screen. He better hope whatever he needs to see there to give me my ninety days shows up in the next sixty seconds because I am this close to dragging him across that desk and whipping his smug little ass until somebody comes to pull me off him. This close.Then he sighs deeply and looks up. Sixty days, he says, like it’s killing him. I’ll give you sixty days.And I want to say, It’s not even your money, so why are you acting so shitty in a moment that is already shitty enough without your adding a single thing?But it’s not his fault. I wouldn’t even be sitting here if I hadn’t done the things I did. The reason he’s acting like he’s doing me a favor is because he is doing me a favor. They could have taken the house two months ago, and no amount of world-class begging could have stopped them if the weasel hadn’t let me slide. Being mad at him is a waste of time, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that time is all you’ve got.Thank you, I say, standing up to go before he can change his mind. He stands up and reluctantly shakes the hand I offer. He’s giving me that disapproving stone face like he’s Robert Young on Father Knows Best and I’m Kitten trying to hide a bad report card.I’m at the door when he calls my name, and my first reaction is to keep walking like I don’t hear him, but that would be gutless, and courage is one of the things I’m supposed to be working on, so I stop and half turn back toward him. Yes?Good luck, he says with a smile that’s almost human.Thanks, I say, smiling back, even if he is my banker. I’m going to need it.

Bookclub Guide

1. For years, Atlanta has been hailed as “the Black Mecca.” In Some Things I Never Thought I’d Do, author Pearl Cleage has created a new vision of an existing community, Atlanta’s West End, that is truly Mecca-like in that crime has been eradicated and the black men are playing some very positive roles in making it a safer place to live. Do you think visions such as Pearl’s can help build hope and possibility in our communities?2. Regina is a smart, confident woman who was driven to cocaine abuse by a broken heart. Could you identify with Regina, or did you feel that she should have been able to cope with her problems without becoming an addict?3. Regina’s late lover (and Beth Davis’s late son) Son not only helped his mother’s movement to empower single moms, but “wanted to start his own program for the brothers because he said it didn’t make sense to have a whole lot of enlightened women looking for love in the arms of a whole lot of unenlightened men.” Do you think that is a problem for black women today–not being able to find men with their level of education, achievement, or consciousness?4. The theme of “movements” for community empowerment runs through this book. Regina, who is thirty-two, reflects on her parents’ generation of movement friends who “were still waiting for a leader to arise who would pick up where Martin and Malcolm and Medgar and all those unnamed martyrs left off.” Do you think that Black people today are looking for a leader or a movement? And is that the solution to the many challenges facing the African American community?5. This is a love story that encourages us to keep hope alive. Hope in community. Hope in redemption. Hope in Black men coming into their own as positive, constructive warriors and protectors of women, children, and community. Hope of Black women finding the balance between achievement and softness. Did Regina and Blue’s love story give you hope? Did the vision of a healthy, whole, harmonious Black community give you hope? Why is it so important for Black people today to have a sense of love, hope, and possibility?6. Regina and Blue knew each other in a previous lifetime. Did the theme of reincarnation affect the credibility of the story for you? Do you think a reader has to believe in reincarnation to enjoy this book?7. Aunt Abbie has a vision of Regina marrying Blue, and she shares this vision with Regina early on. When they’re getting to know each other, Blue tells Regina of his three past wives and says that “I guess I’m a better friend than I am a husband.” Yet this doesn’t seem to deter Regina from moving into a relationship with Blue, and the book ends with her saying that it’s time for Blue to meet Aunt Abbie. Do you think Regina and Blue are headed for a happy ending? Or does such a thing exist?8. How did you feel about Beth Davis as a leader of, and role model for, Black single mothers? How did you feel about her rejection of her only grandchild, Sonny Jr., and harsh judgment of the child’s mother, Madonna, the ex-stripper?9. Beth had trouble letting go of her grown son and allowing him to live his own life, make his own choices. How common do you think this is for mothers in general and single mothers of sons in particular? Do you think this is one reason there seems to be a shortage of the kind of men portrayed in this book?10. When Blue and Regina visit his beach house on the island, he kisses her and she says, “He didn’t touch me in any other way. He just kissed me smack on the mouth, and I kissed him back, and it felt so good and so right that I decided to stop worrying about past lives or next lives or anything except his mouth on mine . . .” Can a love story be romantic without the heroine being a little impulsive, and maybe impractical? Is it possible to be romantic and pragmatic at the same time, for either women or men?11. Pearl’s descriptions of the characters and community were very vivid. Can you look at a community like today’s West End (and so many other African American neighborhoods), which she describes as “plagued by crime, drugs, homelessness, and unemployment” and envision the world in this novel? Did this story make you feel optimistic about the potential for positive change in the relationships between Black men and women and in our communities? Do you think it is wise, dangerous, or a waste of time to envision and hope for something better?12. Is it the responsibility of today’s African American writers, musicians and artists to portray the world as it is, or as they hope it can be? Does a single novel, a love story, have the power to provoke positive change? What might it inspire you to do?13. There are no explicit sex scenes in this novel. Why do you think the author made this choice? Which approach do you prefer in a love story–detailed lovemaking scenes or a more subtle approach?14. Regina’s Aunt Abbie is described as a “visionary advisor” and seems almost kind of psychic, at least when it comes to Regina’s life. Do you have an Aunt Abbie-like person in your life? If so, what role do they play? And what would you think if they told you that you would be meeting a love from past lifetimes?15. What do you know about Regina from her relationship with Son and her growing relationship with Blue? Could you identify with her and the romantic choices she makes?16. When Regina “looked at the TV in time to see the second plane hit the World Trade Center,” she gave up cocaine, started praying and checked herself into a rehabilitation facility.” This was before she knew that the love of her life, Son Davis, had died in the attack. Why do you think the events of 9-11 provoked such a dramatic reaction in Regina? Did you or anyone you know make a similarly life-changing decision as a result of 9-11?17. What role does forgiveness play in this story? Why was it important for Regina and Beth to forgive each other? For Beth to forgive the mother of her grandchild?18. At Beth’s request, Regina takes a job helping Morehouse College put Son’s papers together into the Legacy Project. Would Regina have taken the job, working for the woman who destroyed her life once before, if she hadn’t been absolutely desperate to save her family home?19. Pearl writes that “One of the problems Black folks have is we’re usually so busy making history that we don’t take the time to record it. We keep forgetting that the one who shapes the story defines the hero, and the hero defines the best of what a people can be.” Why is it important for Black people to write and record their histories? Who are today’s heroes for Black people, and will history record them as such?20. If someone, even a trusted relative or friend, predicted that you would meet someone from a past lifetime and hook up with that person, how would you react? Would you be skeptical? Eager to meet the person? And if the prediction came true, would you be happy? Frightened? How would you handle it?21. When Aunt Abbie first tells Regina that her past-life love has blue eyes, Regina expresses some alarm, assuming he’s a White man. How would you react if someone told you that your soulmate was someone of another race? A White man?22. Do you think that the fate and the future of Black people depends upon Black men and women staying together? Do interracial dating and marriage threaten the future of Black people? With so many Black men dating interracially, do you think that Black women should do the same? What might the consequences be?

Editorial Reviews

“Cleage writes with amazing grace and killer instinct.”--The New York Times“A playful, joy-filled novel, shot with…humor and engaging, life-loving characters.”–Los Angeles Times “Pearl Cleage deftly balanc[es] complex social issues with a warm narrative voice…SOME THINGS I NEVER THOUGHT I’D DO won’t disappoint.”--Essence”[SOME THINGS I NEVER THOUGHT I’D DO] demonstrates [Cleage’s] gift for engaging storytelling, identifiable characters, and sister-to-sister dialogue.”--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution “Biting and truthful, forceful and intelligent....With her signature aplomb, Pearl Cleage has crafted another novel with captivating dialogue, a straightforward read-to-the-end tale of sisterhood and romance.”–Dallas Morning News“Cleage croons a tale of politics-for-hire, community action, and strong men coming on with a voice as smooth and mellow as a jazz standard.”–Bebe Moore Campbell“Readers…will be charmed by this tale in which second chances are golden, love triumphs, and good wins over evil.”–Philadelphia Inquirer“An engrossing story with a deep understanding of the human spirit.”–Ebony“[SOME THINGS…] sets the standard for fiction that not only entertains but raises important issues relevant in the real world.”–Black Issues Book Review