little sarah Big World

Tag: reading

Busy, Busy in the Beehive State

So Friday was like this:

Waffles and fries, followed by tea and shopping, with Stephanie.

Then, later, a decent rehearsal, a ride from an amicable gent, and Gallery Stroll with another Stephanie (I now have three regular Stephanies in my life, along with a host of supporting Stephanies).

Finish it off with a delicious dinner at Himalayan Kitchen, good wine, good conversation, a great book (Poisonwood Bible), and then early to bed.

All in all, a successful Friday.

So why do I feel this hollow feeling, like I’m doing something wrong? Like something is missing.

 

 

Good Day Sunshine

Recently I decided to stop partying so hard, move forward, untether myself from a sinking ship. If you will. Turns out that doing such things cost me many friends and showered me with judgment and insult. And it does sting, Friends. It burns, a little.

But the thing is…I’m okay. Doing quite well, actually. Still without internet at home, and I’ve been reading in bed (zines, fiction, graphic novels, periodicals…), having Dance Party of One (Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley, Dr. Dog and Arcade Fire), cleaning house and enjoying the alone time. Watching Woody Allen films.

And eating well. Salad, even! If a delicious Winter salad is not a mark of inner peace and health, then I just don’t know what is. Plus the baking, again, my old comfort habit. I’m feeling like myself again, is I guess what I’m trying to say.

Not that I’m perfect. I’m not. I’ve done some cowardly, misguided things of late. Slipped back into old, bad habits. But I pulled myself out again, and if that means Permanent Alone Time, then that’s fine. In fact, I’m glad of it. Because…because there was a time when that wouldn’t  have been okay. In fact, my trip for most of last year was “Nobody likes me I have no friends what’s wrong with me?!”

Whereas now I wonder, “What’s wrong with them? I’m having the time of my life.”

 

Making Time

Time to read:

“Why they came East I don’t know. They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together.”     —The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Time for friends, for gathering:

And festivities–time to celebrate, get messy, laugh, be creative:

Time for new friends, and new beginnings, for soul-satisfying discussions and long runs through tree-filled canyons. For the crisp air and crunchy, fire-colored leaves. Time for nourishment:

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had the familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”     (Also Gatsby)

[Just like that, but with Autumn]

Good morning!

FIRST: Woke up early with a volatile stomach (too much going-away-party-ing) and drove to Moms’ to give Mom the car back/drive her to work. Ate Cliff bars and MiniWheats with Rosie, while talking Disney movies and inventing “pattern names” (hers: Lavender Fuchsia Lavender Fuchsia, mine: Red Rose Red Rose). Gossiped with Mom in the car while she put on make-up. Back home by 7:15 and back into bed with Kevin, warm and safe.

THEN: Slept an hour before up-and-atem (for reals this time), 15 minutes to get ready and then ride my bike to catch the bus. Today it was an older, skinny man, a middle-aged, big-bellied man and a polite dowdy woman talking about their experiences “in the service,” dealing with PTSD and how it will always be a part of them. (The other day it was a tattooed hispanic man in his forties and a young skinhead exchanging prison stories. I love this bus route).

NOW: Baby’s sleeping, and I am reading my at-work, non-fiction read (The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande–liked by Malcolm Gladwell and in that same vein), sipping soy cocoa and munching buttered toast.

~ Not quite ten am and I am grateful for what I have ~

Enjoying Books, Despite College

I love to read, I work at a library, I am a member of two different book groups, and yet I really haven’t read that much in my life. There are two reasons for this:

1 – Although I read often, daily, I take longer than most to finish a book. I am a Slow Reader, meaning that I can’t read much faster than talking speed, or else it feels frantic. I didn’t even know this until late in college, when I was reading an article with my boyfriend, and he kept finishing each page twice as fast as I did. Adversity.

2 – Also, I was an English major in college, and They totally tried to suck all the fun out of reading and make me feel like an idiot for not automatically noticing major themes of oppression and sexuality (or whatever). All of a sudden, book talk was less “I really like this character, because she reminds me of my friend…” and more “Furthermore, by placing a comma–rather than a period–here, Famous Poet is imploring us to pause, but not to stop…” etc.

I would want to read, but then I’d think about how if I was going  to read, then it really ought to be something for school, but of course I didn’t want to read stuff for school, and then I wound up just not reading.

UNTIL!

Phase I: I started keeping a little paper log of all the books I read (even the ones for school–motivation!), and it was so, so pleasing to see my little literature list grow, so satisfying, and then to be able to look back and remember what I was reading, and when, and where I was sitting as I finished the book. A book club of one, and it was good.

Phase II: But I wanted to remember more about each book, so I started dog-earring pages with quotes or passages that I particularly enjoyed–insights, humor, metaphors, etc. (I’ve since switched to tearing off little pieces of paper to mark these pages, because maybe some people don’t appreciate me returning their books all dog-eared). Then, when I’m done with the book, I sit down and copy my favorite bits into my journal:

Phase III: Phase three is where I start a blog and decide that the minutiae of my daily life is interesting to anyone other than myself. So now I post my favorite quotes and hope that they’ll spark discussion, THOUGH THEY ALMOST NEVER DO.

from What is the What by Dave Eggers (a biography of Valentino Achak Deng)

“I lost someone very close to me and afterward I believed I could have saved him had I been a better friend to him. But everyone disappears, no matter who loves them.”

“This boy thinks I am not of his species, that I am some other kind of creature, one that can be crushed under the weight of a phone book…The pain is not great, but the symbolism is disagreeable.”

“But I loved when she wore [her glasses], and wanted her to wear them more often. She was less glamorous in those enormous frames, and when she had them on, it seemed more plausible that she was truly mine.”

“Without William K, I would have forgotten that I had not been born on this journey. That I had lived before this. Without William K, I could have imagined myself born here in the tall grasses, paths broken by the boys before me, that I had never had a family, had never had a home, had never slept under a roof, had never eaten enough warm food to fill my stomach, had never fallen asleep knowing what could and could not happen when the sun rose again.”

“It was me, Achak Deng. Successful with ladies.”

“One moment I could feel Jor’s breath on my neck, and the next I could smell the animal, its dark-smelling sweat. I turned and saw Jor limp, dead in its jaws. The lion was looking directly at me, emotionless, and we stared at each other for days and nights. Then he turned and left with Jor.”

“On the day of the visit, the camp had never looked so beautiful. I was proud. I can remember the feeling still; we were capable of this, the creation of a life from nothing.”

“We thought we were young and that there would be time to love well sometime in the future. This is a terrible way to think. It is no way to live, to wait to love.”

“Each exhalation was a falling tree and my mind went mad with the noise of it all, but I deserved the turmoil. I deserved nothing better. I wanted to be alone with my stupidity, which I cursed in three languages and with all my spleen.”

“Though I tried to disguise it, I slowed our pace as we walked. I wanted so badly to make the evening last. It was a lovely night, the air warm, the wind civilized.”

Also, I have an account with GoodReads, but I’m not sure that counts as a Phase, since it’s less something I sought out to make my reading experience more interactive and more something that my coworker suggested I do so that I can remember and easily call up all the books I’ve read when a library patron wants a recommend. Plus it allows me to spend that much more work-time sitting in front of a computer.

QUESTION: is it worth linking to my GoodReads from this blog? You know, in my blogroll.

Death and the Short Story

Recently I saw 127 Hours, and it was amazing. It was one of the most exciting, interesting, inspiring, original movies I’ve seen in a long time. And I told people this. And they were unimpressed. Unmoved. Completely unmotivated to see the movie.

So, now that I’ve read this book–Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman–that was a fascinating, intelligent, creative, and telling exploration of humankind in life, as well as death, I just feel like I’m not going to be able to convince a single soul to read it. I just really don’t think so.

Anyways, selling points: I only knew to even look for this book because it was mentioned in a New York Times Magazine article. That’s a trusted source, right? (Plus props to me for “doing my homework” and following up on a thing). Also: short stories! So it makes for a good bus/subway/lunch-for-one read. Here’s a tasty preview:

“In this part of the afterlife, you imagine something analogous to your Earthly life, and the thought is blissful: a life where episodes are split into tiny swallowable pieces, where moments do not endure, where one experiences the joy of jumping from one event to the next like a child hopping from spot to spot on the burning sand.” (from Sum)

“The Collectors construct lives of parametric experiments: men and women who adhere well but are shot past one another too briefly–brushing by in a library, passing on the step of a city bus, wondering just for a moment.” (from Adhesion)

“When we’re in a human body, we don’t care about universal collapse–instead, we care only about a meeting of the eyes, a glimpse of bare flesh, the caressing tones of a loved voice, joy, love, light, the orientation of a house plant, the shade of a paint stroke, the arrangement of hair.” (from Angst)

“They watch how each human driver aims for his own private piece of the city, isolated from neighbors by layers of glass and steel. Some of the humans reach out to make cell phone contact with a single friend out of the innumerable hordes. And gazing out over the steering wheel, each human feels the intensities of joy and grief as though his were the only real examples in the world.” (from Pantheon)

“In the afterlife, in the warm company of His accidental subjects, God now settles in comfortably, like a grandfather who looks down the long holiday table at his progeny, feeling proud, somehow responsible, and a little surprised.” (from Seed)

David Eagleman

“We are the moment of least facility for the atoms. And in this form, they find themselves longing to ascend mountains, wander the seas, and conquer the air, seeking to recapture the limitlessness they once knew.” (from Search)

 

Jeffrey Brown Breaks My Heart

…and still I keep reading his books. *Sigh*

Just finished this:

But you could read any of his stuff and have old relationship wounds split open again. He has a website, also.

Non-Fiction Lush

Never thought I’d get so into non-fiction (and I do think that it says something about this category that it has to be defined in terms of what it’s not…), but then this guy came along:

Malcolm Gladwell

I mean, look at how he writes: (from The Tipping Point)

“We are all, at heart, gradualists, our expectations set by the steady passage of time.”

“Weisberg has a low, raspy voice, baked hard by half a century of nicotine, and she pauses between sentences to give herself the opportunity for a quick puff. Even when she’s not smoking, she pauses anyway, as if to keep in practice for those moments when she is.”

Awesome. Here’s some other stuff from that book:

“In a way, the desire to be of service and influence–whatever it is–can be taken too far. You can become nosy…You have to remember that it’s their decision. It’s their life.” (Mark Alpert)

“I even remember sitting upstairs in his sister’s bedroom…separating the seeds out of some pot on the cover of a Grateful Dead album…The draw for me was the badness of it, and the adult-ness, and the way it proved the idea that you could be more than one thing at once.” (From Gladwell’s smoking questionnaire)

Fridays

Fridays I hang out with my nephew.

He’s pretty bad ass. I pick him up from school and we walk home, passing lots of interesting stuff, like chickens and train tracks and donut factories. Then we have a snack and read Harry Potter together.

(He lets me stop to take pictures, which–if you hadn’t noticed–is my new thing. Documentation)

Happiness Research (Part I)

from The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

Karma Ura (Bhutan): “I have no such mountain to scale; basically, I find that living itself is a struggle, and if I’m satisfied, if I have done just that, lived well, in the evening I sigh and say, ‘It was okay.’ ”

“Travel, at its best, transforms us in ways that aren’t always apparent until we’re back home.”

“Floyd was a large man, in the horizontal sense…”

“It’s a rotary phone. I can’t remember the last time I used one. It feels so heavy and slow, like dialing upwind.”

Tim LeBon (Britain): “Part of positive psychology is about being positive, but sometimes laughter and clowns are not appropriate. Some people don’t want to be happy, and that’s okay. They want meaningful lives, and those are not always the same as happy lives.”

“Where did this come from? I can’t identify one moment nor any particular position I twisted my body into. It just snuck up on me. Maybe this is how enlightenment happens. Not with a thunderclap or a bolt of lightning but as a steady drip, drip, drip until one day you realize your bucket is full.”