Do you ever just desperately need a change? In middle school I got a terrible haircut (it was a bad time for my tresses) and my dearest friend Scooter laughed at me and asked, “Oh my God, did you cut that yourself?” I think I kicked his shin in response – that seems like something I’d do at 12. Actually, my mom had paid a “stylist” at Supercuts, and the result was bangs that ended about two inches above my eyebrows. Like I said, a bad, bad time.
Lately that ennui I mentioned in my last post had me itching for a change. I decided wanted a haircut and I wanted it the second the thought entered my mind. Patience is not a virtue of mine, so I grabbed some dull office scissors and went straight for the bangs. When B. noticed me, he jumped up yelling, “What are you doing? Stop!” The wise man knew I was going to regret trying to give myself a haircut and, perhaps more importantly, that he would be the one to hear my whining until the damage grew out. He’s a keeper, that one.
I still felt like I needed a change, so I started fiddling with my blog instead. An ugly style sheet is much easier to fix than an ugly haircut. The blog has been in a state of disarray for the last week, especially in regard to a title. Having grown tired of my whit-icisms (see? so lame) and blatant Nabokov theft, I just could not come up with a new name. Finally, this morning, I came up with something on which I think I can settle: Notes from the Darkroom.
Notes because writing is what I like to do, darkroom because it’s where I like to be, and homage to Dostoyevsky (i.e. Notes from Underground) because Russian literature is what I love to read. It’s kind of perfect, but then again, I’ll probably hate it in a week. To be determined…
The response to my previous post was, in many ways, both expected and unexpected. Religion is such a provocative subject that I expected my words to anger some and to resonate with others, which they did – although, curiously, people responded in private messages rather than commenting out in the open. What I did not expect is that my post would get picked up and disseminated by other bloggers and editorial websites. I found the post from my recondite blog nestled between articles from Psychology Today to Wired to Medical Daily and The Huffington Post. As a writer, there is no greater honor than learning that your words moved people enough to share them with others. So, I want simply to say thank you: to those who took the time to read my words; for responding with myriad emotions, not least among them passion and compassion; to those who continue to read my words, even if they don’t agree with them; and to those who circulate them around the web for others to read. I am beyond humbled and thankful.
Lastly, I want to share with you some words that resonate with me. These are words about what it means to live, written so poignantly by the most perspicacious author of this generation:
“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”
Arundhati Roy, “The End of Imagination”
How am I just now learning about this‽
I love Anna Karenina. It’s my second favorite* novel. I also love Keira Knightley from her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennett in Pride & Prejudice. I haven’t been this excited about a movie since Deathly Hallows, Pt. II.
*Technically, it’s #9 because Harry Potter >; everything else, but I usually omit that because, duh.
Whitney’s 14 Favorite Books
(Because She Just Couldn’t Narrow It Down to Ten)
14. A Separate Peace, John Knowles
13. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
12. Maus, Art Spiegelman
11. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
10. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Alison Bechdel
9. Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut
8. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
7. Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov
6. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
5. The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
4. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
3. A Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut
2. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
1. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
I was going to write the reasons I love each of these novels, but then I realized that you presumably have better things to do than spend an hour reading through effusive explanations.
PS: Congratulations to my uncle, aunt, and cousin! Cousin #2 is on the way. I couldn’t be happier for them.
Since my parents’ promise to me that I would get a great job if I went to college has not come to pass, I have a profusion of leisure. Right now, or rather when I’m not writing (indignant letters to a certain University demanding a refund for my degree enclosed with copies of job rejections), sleeping from midnight to noon, or killing zombies and aliens on the Xbox, I’m reading Jane Eyre.
It’s part of my goal to read half a hundred books this year, and even though I read it (purportedly) in high school, I’m inclined to read it again because of my teenage tendency to read SparkNotes rather than entire novels. Yes, I am indeed proof that you can graduate with a degree from the fourth best English program in the entire world without having read even half of the books assigned in high school, but I digress.
Anyway, I’ve read about a third of Jane Eyre, and I have a few observations I’d like to share:
1. This book makes me want to drink. Heavily. Mrs. Reed, John Reed, Mr. Brocklehurst. Jesus, these are not people whose presence I want to endure without a stiff martini.
2. There’s not enough sex. I’m youthful and progressive and, damn it, I want to read the dirty bits. I’m hoping I’ll be a little more satisfied when Jane and Rochester get together. That happens, right?
3. For someone so acclaimed for being a protofeminist, Charlotte Brontë sure spends a lot of time talking about clothes.
4. The way Brontë writes makes me think I’d be good friends with her in real life. I get the sense that she practices great restraint in writing, and was probably wont to say highly indecorous and hilarious things in conversation, which I totally appreciate in another person.
5. Surprisingly, I like Jane Eyre! I was not expecting this, as British Lit. usually causes me to fake gag while making the “vomit” sign in ASL and curse aloud, but hey, personal growth… or something.
This list offered a lot more insight about me than the book, but isn’t that kind of the point of a personal blog?