Sunday, April 29, 2012

Snapshots

Currently Reading: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Let me set the mood, for my current scene is too delicious not to share. I am home alone, waiting impatiently for Nate to come. The steady sound of rain hitting roof serenades the quiet and is only accompanied by the clacking of keys and the tick of our clock. Hobbes crouches on the desk next to me, intent and watchful. It's quiet, semi-dark, as rain drips patterns on our sliding glass door and the day outside slowly becomes night. This moment is peaceful, perfect for reflection, which is the mood I have been carrying with me all day. If moods had colors (true Mood ring style), what would "reflective" be? Soft gray, like the rain clouds in the sky? Sepia-toned, with that hint of nostalgia and memory? The bright yellow of lamplight? Today it might be a little of each. With thoughts winging and soaring around my head, I plan to let them land where they will.
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Eden's Outcasts is still with me, even several weeks later. It is a difficult task to tell the story of another's life and John Matteson did a phenomenal job. Most of the time, I forgot I was reading someone else's words and analyses, which is the mark of a great writer- to slip invisible beneath the pages. While reading, I often found myself wondering about what Louisa's life would have been like if she had lived in the present day- would she have still accomplished what she did? Would she have lived longer? Would her family life have been the same? It is interesting to think how much of our personalities, accomplishments, and failures are products of our times as well as our natures. The same holds true for her father. Bronson was a figure of his time- what would his philosophies and educational doctrines have been away from Transcendental Concord? The book was a wonderful amalgam of a discussion of two individuals who both exercised great influence over the other. The final sentence of the book is quote-worthy: "As writers, as reformers, and as inspirations, Bronson and Louisa still exist for us. Yet this existence, on whatever terms we may experience it, is no more than a shadow when measured against the way they existed for each other."
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Nate's home! Time to make some dinner.....
OK, I'm back. Swedish meatballs in the oven and I'm ready to go...
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As of last week, I was a James Joyce virgin. But since our Ireland trip is coming ever closer, I decided I needed to dip my toes into one of Joyce's works. Dubliners it was! I enjoy reading short stories, although I don't always do so. (Kate Chopin's "Story of An Hour" is still my favorite short story to date.) Dubliners was like an arc, starting with a story from a child's perspective and ending with a character in late middle age. The first and last story also contained a death of sorts, bringing the collection of stories full circle, like the sun traveling east to west. Another unique characteristic of Dubliners was that each tale acted as a snapshot, a still-life painting of a pivotal moment or moments in the main character's life and understanding of self. Only one story opened with any sort of description of the character or surroundings; the rest simply dropped the reader into a thought or an action, as if we inadvertently time-traveled to this particular scene, with no history of what came before and no idea where we are, or snuck into a movie halfway through. Far from disconcerting, it was exciting. It forced me to pay attention to detail and learn the situation by reading into the character's dialogue or facial expressions. And what a rich cast of characters! Each were confronted with truths about themselves and their lives, forced to perceive their existence in a new way. Some encapsulated a night or a few days, others captured moments, mere glimpses of an hour. All of the stories was new and different, with no air of staleness or crustiness. One would never know it was written almost 100 years ago. While I feel I learned even more about early 20th century Ireland through this telescope of stories, I also think Dubliners accurately examined all human nature and human experience, regardless of time or place. It was definitely worth the read and I feel pleased for having read it. Joyce has always been on my list and while I have never been brave enough to tackle Ulysses, I look forward to diving into the Joyce canon a little more fully in the future. Favorite stories from Dubliners: "Eveline", "The Boarding House", "A Painful Case", and "The Dead". All very different, but all worth great reflection.
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Hobbes is trying to catch the raindrops that slide down the exterior of the door. So cute, so futile. I love that cat. And now I end an enjoyable weekend, one spent savoring my final (for now) sleepover with one of my best friends, since she moves away in two weeks. Goodbyes are never easy and this one is especially difficult, for we have shared six years of adventures and laughs and soul-baring. But I must remind myself that I am blessed to have someone to miss. Missing someone means you are loved and have loved in return. A new chapter begins.